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Positive review sees HIV prevention drug made routinely available in Wales

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. 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 for people without HIV who are at very high risk of contracting it. PrEP is a tablet that contains tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine, two antiviral drugs commonly used to treat HIV, which is taken by HIV-negative people daily to reduce the risk of contracting the infection.

When used as directed, and as part of a HIV prevention package, PrEP has been proven to be highly effective. In Wales, there are approximately 153 new cases of HIV infection diagnosed annually, with PrEP a vital tool for working towards ending new HIV infections in Wales.

PrEP is used as part of a broader HIV prevention strategy alongside condoms, HIV testing and antiviral treatments.

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