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LGBT+ Lib Dems co-sign PrEP letter to Health Secretary

March 11, 2020 2:50 PM
Originally published by LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, working with the Terrence Higgins Trust, have co-signed a letter with the other main English parties' LGBT+ groups calling for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to be made available on the NHS from April 2020. The full text of the letter is reproduced below. Making PrEP available on the NHS has been Liberal Democrats policy since 2016.

Dear Secretary of State

RE: Routine Commissioning of PrEP

As the voices of LGBT+ communities within our political parties, we are today coming together to call for you to keep your commitment of routine commissioning of PrEP from April 2020.

On October 29th 2019 you stated at the despatch box: "seamless transition from the trial to routine commissioning from April next year." On January 28th 2020 the Public Health Minister stated: "routine commissioning will be rolled out from April."

We are united in our grave concerns about the provision of PrEP in both the immediate and long term and to ask for your urgent action to ensure we avoid failing the communities it can most benefit. As the government has itself recognised, PrEP is highly effective medication that can prevent the transmission of HIV.

In January last year you committed to ending HIV transmissions in England by 2030 and PrEP is a vital tool in achieving this ambitious but achievable target. The government, public sector and voluntary sector are all united in this goal so it is incredibly dispiriting that we find ourselves facing repeated delays in ensuring all those who need PrEP are able to access it.

The PrEP Impact Trial ends in September 2020. I am sure you want to avoid a "cliff edge" in PrEP access but we are concerned that this situation is already upon us. As we write this letter there are currently 54 trial sites across England that are closed to gay and bisexual men. We now know that at least 15 men have contracted HIV while waiting for a place on the trial. And this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. This is not good enough.

Routine commissioning also needs to work for all communities that could benefit including women, trans and non-binary, including gender diverse people, BAME communities and gay and bisexual men.

PrEP works. PrEP saves the NHS money in treatment costs. PrEP will help us end HIV transmissions. We urge you not to renege on your commitment and do what is needed to ensure that this life-changing HIV prevention drug is available to all who could benefit.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Signatories of the chairs of Lib Dem, Labour, Green and Tory LGBT+ groups to THT letter, March 2020