In a judgement as irrational as it is infuriating, NHS England yesterday announced it would be abandoning its decision to make highly effective HIV prevention drugs, otherwise known as ‘PrEP’, available to those most at risk of HIV. In what has become a recurring theme, authorities have once again met the opportunity to tackle rising HIV transmission rates with complacency and disregard.
PrEP, which studies have shown can reduces the user’s chances of HIV infection by 99% when taken daily, has long been deemed by charities, health professionals and activists as one of the most potent weapons for combatting rising HIV rates, particularly within the gay community. Over the last decade the number of gay men newly diagnosed with HIV has risen from 2,423 in 2004 to 3,360 in 2014, with the latter figure representing the highest number since records began. Of the 45,000 gay men living with HIV, 14% are unaware of their infection. The situation shows minimal signs of improvement without intervention from the government and public health bodies.