Last week, NHS England announced that Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will be available on prescription from the NHS to 10,000 people as part of a three-year trial from September 1.
Campaigners in Northern Ireland are increasingly concerned about how they are falling behind the rest of the UK.
Ian Dylan Thomas, The Co-Chair of LGBT Labour, said: “While we welcome this step from NHS England we are concerned that it doesn’t go far enough in the battle against HIV. During the 2017 general election we made a pledge to work towards universal provision of PrEP across the United Kingdom and we won’t stop until that is achieved.”
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health, added: “The start of the PrEP trial is welcome and long overdue after months of delays and heel-dragging by the Government.
“The evidence shows just how transformative this drug can be as part of our approach to HIV prevention and ending the transmission of this life-changing infection. This trial will take us one step closer to fully understanding the benefits of PrEP.
“Now it is important that this trial is rolled out as quickly as possible across the country to protect individuals who are exposed to HIV and help take us one step closer to ending the spread of HIV in society.”
Co-Founder of the I Want PrEP Now Campaign, Greg Owen, said: “While it is great that we finally have a start date for PrEP Impact. The trial is already late. The suggestion that it will take until April 2018 for all participating clinics to be fully onboard and providing PrEP to those most at risk of HIV infection is unacceptable.
“This trial and the eventual provision of PrEP must not further compound existing health inequalities faced by all groups disproportionately affected by HIV.”