When it was announced today that the NHS’s PrEP trial was to be expanded, it sounded like good news. Upon closer inspection, it seems that these won’t be in London where HIV rates are at their highest.
Following the major success seen in the PrEP Impact Trial that saw 11,500 participants enrolled in taking the medication, NHS England has announced that they are to expand it. The trial is to double in size to 26,000 places across England. This comes after the PrEP Oversight Board confirmed back in 2019 that this was going to be the case since researchers wanted more information on the impact of the service.
Local Authority commissioners were asked to confirm that they had the capacity to take on additional places on the PrEP trial, to which 80% of them have confirmed that they are in fact able to.
In London, commissioners have welcomed the trial expansion and have agreed to additional places but have yet to confirm how many more spaces that will be available. Since London has the highest rates of HIV infection here in the UK, with 36% of new infections in 2017 occurring in the capital, freeing up space on the trial here is crucial.
London commissioners have asked for more time to come forward with exact figures on how many spaces will be available. This news comes as 11 out of 23 of London’s trial sites are already full to gay and bisexual men. Ian Green, Cheif Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, took the opportunity to voice his displeasure sharing:
‘Although we’re told the capital will accept some additional places, we don’t have a clue how many or a clear timeframe for a decision being made. How many more people need to needlessly contract HIV before the necessary action is taken?
‘We need urgent, decisive decisions rather than further unnecessary delays and disagreements as it won’t be long before once again places fill up in the capital. Last year Public Health Minister Steve Brine said that most trial sites will be full by this March – and March is now here.’