Green submission to PrEP Consulation

The NHS are carrying out a consultation on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV. LGBTIQA+ Greens have taken part in this consultation, with this submission.

LGBTIQA+ Greens advocate for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to be made available to at risk groups on the NHS. Taken daily, the combination drug known as Truvada (commonly used to treat HIV) has been proven to prevent HIV-negative people from becoming HIV-positive by up to 99% with minimal side-effects [1]. The PROUD study, a real-world trial of PrEP in the UK, found the treatment to be 86% effective at preventing men who have sex with men from acquiring HIV [2]. Although this preventative treatment would have benefits for all groups, it would be especially useful for those at higher risk including gay and bisexual men, ethnic minority women, and sex workers [3]. The Green Party advocates equal rights for each of these groups [4], and therefore our aim of providing PrEP is consistent with the Party’s core principles of social, economic and environmental justice.

Introducing PrEP would have additional social, cultural and health benefits by reducing stigma towards people living with HIV. Due to scientific progress, acquiring HIV is no longer a death sentence, but an easily manageable medical condition. Someone diagnosed with HIV today can expect to have an average (possibly higher than average) life expectancy. The PARTNER study also found that when someone is taking daily HIV medications and their viral load becomes undetectable, they cannot pass the virus on to others [5]. If the roll out of PrEP was combined with public awareness campaigns about HIV based on scientific data, we believe the lives of people living with HIV would also be greatly improved.

Despite the funding crisis currently engulfing the NHS, health experts say that providing PrEP would be a cost-effective long-term strategy [6]. Until a permanent cure for HIV is developed, those who become HIV-positive are expected to take expensive medications on a daily basis for life, costing up to £380,000 per person [7]. By contrast, those who use PrEP may only do so for a short period of time or under particular circumstances when they are at greater risk of exposure to HIV. Although providing Truvada to everyone would be an expensive endeavor, once drug patents expire in 2018 the cost of PrEP will drastically decrease. However, the longer NHS England and the Government delay providing PrEP to those at risk, the more money taxpayers will lose as rates of HIV transmission continue to rise [8].Therefore we are in full support of the immediate introduction of PrEP to be funded by the NHS and believe this will not only have the best health outcomes for at risk groups, but also reduce costs to the health system in the medium to long term.