NHS postcode lottery on anti-HIV drugs must be ended
- Saturday 1 December 2018
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, has launched a campaign to end the NHS postcode lottery regarding who is supplied with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which reduces the risk of people developing the HIV infection. The campaign by the union’s LGBT section has been launched to coincide with World Aids Day (today, Saturday 1 December).
In August 2017 NHS England announced a pioneering trial to 10,000 people at high risk of contracting HIV, the trial was later increased to 13,000 participants. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is no cap on the number of people who can take part in the trial.
PrEP cap removed
Unite believes that the cap should be removed in England so that all people at risk can receive PrEP.
PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by 90 per cent from sex and to reduce the risk of contracting HIV for people who inject drugs by more than 70 per cent.
HIV infection rates in England have been declining but the cap needs to be lifted to ensure that these rates continue to decrease.
As part of the campaign to have the cap lifted the Unite LGBT committee in every region will be writing to their individual health trusts and MPs calling for the changes to ensure PrEP is made universally available throughout England.
Unite national officer for the LGBT sector Harish Patel said: “It is imperative that there is equal access to PrEP in England, to ensure that people at risk of being exposed to HIV across the whole of the UK, can be given the medication they need.
“The artificial and unnecessary cap on how many people in England can be treated with PrEP is inevitably resulting in vulnerable people needlessly contracting HIV.
“The government needs to take immediate action and end the cap on PrEP in England.”
Notes to editors
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.