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A Judge Just Ruled That the NHS Can Fund Anti-HIV Drugs, But the NHS Says It's Not Their Responsibility

The NHS had argued it's not responsible for providing PrEP, medication that can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 99 percent.

by Salma Haidrani
02 August 2016, 10:57am

PrEP medication (Screen grab from our documentary 'Stopping HIV with the Truvada Revolution')

Earlier today, a High Court judge ruled that NHS England should fund a drug that can prevent HIV. Earlier this year, NHS England maintained it wasn't responsible for HIV prevention (yes, really), arguing that local councils should fund the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication as they are responsible for preventative health.

Leading HIV charity National Aids Trust campaigned against the NHS' position, and today applauded the judge's ruling, dubbing it a "game-changer". They're not wrong: PrEP can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 99 percent if taken consistently. Should the NHS decide to start funding the drug, those at risk of contracting HIV would be able to access PrEP for free.

Joe Morgan, editor-at-large at Gay Star News, said: "This is incredible news. Once [PrEP is] available on the NHS it will save thousands of people from being infected with HIV in the future," adding that the ruling wasn't just a landmark win for the LGBTI community: "This isn't just about gay and bisexual men, but it will be useful for all groups who are at most at risk," he said. "PrEP will ultimately lead to the NHS saving money in the long run."

Thing is, nothing's definite; NHS England is planning to appeal the decision, announcing that it will commission a review on the effectiveness of PrEP while it waits for a decision from the Court of Appeals. NHS Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are yet to make a decision on the matter.