After a successful Welsh Government funded study, a pre-exposure prophylaxis HIV prevention drug combination will be routinely available to those eligible across Wales.
A three year study, launched in July 2017, into the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Wales has resulted in the HIV prevention pill being made available for those who meet the criteria, free of charge. The news comes as another milestone in the work to end HIV infections in Wales.
The study was conducted to answer questions raised by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) and gather data to understand how people would access and use PrEP. The success of the study and availability of generic PrEP led AWMSG to recommend the routine use of PrEP by NHS Wales.
"AWMSG was pleased to review the provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention in Wales, following a three-year study, and support the continued provision of PrEP for patients in Wales.
"PrEP will play a critical role in the prevention of HIV in Wales, with the review part of AWMSG’s wider work in ensuring the people of Wales can access the most appropriate and cost-effective medicines," stated Professor Ceri Phillips, Chair of All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG).
Taking a collaborative approach
For more than three years, the All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre has been working collaboratively alongside Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, clinicians and the Terrence Higgins Trust as part of an independent HIV expert group.
This group along with Public Health Wales was asked to deliver the study and review the data gathered to evaluate the use of PrEP in Wales, after an initial negative recommendation by AWMSG, due to concerns around the cost-effectiveness of the drug. Whilst this was taking place all those who would benefit were given the opportunity to access PrEP through the uncapped study.
Vital tool in Wales' HIV prevention
PrEP is a vital tool for working towards ending new HIV infections in Wales, used as part of a broader HIV prevention strategy alongside condoms, HIV testing and antiviral treatments.
"This is a significant milestone in the HIV response in Wales. Thanks to the existing provision, PrEP has already made a real impact in the fight against in Wales, with zero new HIV transmissions among those taking PrEP in the last three years. By making this HIV game-changer routinely available its benefits can now be fully unlocked," stated Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust.
PrEP is now established practice in Wales and is available on the NHS for all those that meet the criteria. For more information visit: https://www.friskywales.org/wales-prep-project.html