Terrence Higgins Trust launches new ‘Access Fund’ to support people who can’t afford to buy the HIV prevention drug PrEP.
TERRENCE Higgins Trust (THT), Britain’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, will launch a PrEP Access Fund (PAF) this Autumn to support people in England and Northern Ireland who cannot access or afford the HIV preventative drug PrEP.
In England, the NHS is currently running a three-year PrEP Impact Trial, from which many gay and bisexual men are being turned away by clinics that have no more spaces for them.
PrEP is only available in Northern Ireland for those who can afford to buy it privately.
The fund from Terrence Higgins Trust intends to support up to 1,000 people on low or no income who can demonstrate their need for support to cover day-to-day expenses, subject to funding.
The announcement was made this morning at the 22nd annual International AIDS Conference taking place in Amsterdam.
THT CEO, Ian Green, said: “The fact that a charity is having to step in to fund PrEP access to those in most financial need is an embarrassment, and demonstrates the crucial need for NHS England, local authorities in England and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland to act now.
“People who are being denied access to PrEP and who are unable to afford it are being put at risk of contracting HIV, which is completely unacceptable.
“We need to see additional spaces for gay and bisexual men added to the NHS PrEP Impact Trial as a matter of urgency, and routine commissioning of PrEP in both England and Northern Ireland.
“Last week, we were one of 32 organisations who came together to call for routine commissioning of PrEP in England by April 2019.
“There’s still so much work to do to enable us to end HIV transmission in the UK; and enabling all people to access PrEP is one of a number of tools that will allow us to do that.
“Terrence Higgins Trust will continue to work toward this, while also continuing to advocate for other tools including testing, condoms and treatment as prevention.”
Applicants for the Access Fund need to be aged 16 or over, HIV negative and residing in England or Northern Ireland. They must be clinically eligible for PrEP by BHIVA/BASHH standards and will have to evidence they are on low or no income.
There will be a key focus on identifying those receiving benefits, those who have no recourse to public funds and groups who are know are at particular risk of HIV.
The scheme will be open until the end of the Impact Trial or when PrEP is routinely commissioned in England and Northern Ireland.
Peter Kyle MP for Hove & Portslade, said: “I’m disgusted that after all the evidence and defeats in court the government are still refusing to supply PrEP to everyone who needs it. Thank god for THT who are doing the right thing. If we’re not careful people with money will escape HIV but those without won’t. That’s an affront to the values of our NHS and I proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with campaigners trying to deliver the change we all need to see”
PrEP is currently commissioned by the NHS in Scotland, and is available in Wales as part of a trial study.
To find out where you can access PrEP, click here: