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NAT (National AIDS Trust) prepares to defend historic win against NHS England on PrEP

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The charity has launched a crowdfunding appeal in order to raise vital funds to cover their legal costs for the appeal. NHS England is appealing the ruling that said they unlawfully cut PrEP, the drug which prevents HIV transmission, from their commissioning process.

PrEP could be the beginning of the end for HIV – a condition more than 6,000 people a year are diagnosed with in the UK - but NHS England says it doesn't have the legal power to pay for it because it’s a prevention drug. However in August, following Judicial Review by NAT, Mr Justice Green ruled that they are wrong and there is no legal impediment to them funding PrEP. 

Despite the strength of the ruling against their stance, NHS England is forcing the case to go back to court.  NAT is now aiming to raise at least £15,000 by 22 September in order to support the costs of the case. The hearing for the appeal will take place on 15 September at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Deborah Gold, CEO at NAT, said: “We are very disappointed to be having to go to court again to ensure that the NHS can’t just shut the door on PrEP. 

“By unlawfully and suddenly removing PrEP from their commissioning process, NHS England denied the rights of those who need it to have the case for PrEP heard in a fair and impartial way. We can’t stand back and allow poor decisions like this to go unchallenged.

“The truth is that PrEP not only works – it is cost-effective. We will continue to fight for PrEP to be made available on the NHS because it is the right thing to do and it makes financial sense for the country.”

Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust which supported the crowdfunding campaign with a £3,000 donation, said: “We are extremely grateful to NAT for taking on NHS England in the High Court, as part of the ongoing effort to see PrEP made available to those at risk of HIV.

“PrEP – alongside condom use, treatment and testing – could be the final piece of the jigsaw in stopping HIV transmission in the UK.  This is a cause worth fighting for.

“We stand united with NAT and the HIV community in continuing the fight for this game-changing preventative treatment, and have been pleased to be able to provide a donation from Terrence Higgins Trust towards the charity’s legal costs.”

Deborah Gold added: “We want to thank everyone who has so far contributed to our legal costs throughout this part of the fight for PrEP as well as those who would like to now.  You have enabled us to stand up for the rights of people whose voices may otherwise not be heard.” 

- Ends - 

Notes to the editor:

 1.       About NAT

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

www.nat.org.uk

www.lifewithHIV.org – a resource for HIV positive people

www.HIVaware.org.uk – what everyone should know about HIV

2.       Crowdfunding appeal

NAT is crowdfunding for the legal costs of the case.  The crowdfunding appeal can be found at: https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/prep/

3.       What is PrEP?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) involves HIV negative people taking an antiretroviral drug to avoid getting HIV.

Multiple studies around the world have shown PrEP to be highly effective in reducing the risk of contracting HIV. The results of the PrOUD trial in England, released in 2015, prove that PrEP works and that concerns about it not working in a real world setting, were unfounded. Read more about the trial here: http://www.proud.mrc.ac.uk/

Most trials of PrEP and the US CDC Guidelines involve taking PrEP daily.  A study in France, ANRS IPERGAY, has looked at the efficacy of PrEP when taken ‘on demand’, in other words not daily but only before and after sex.  There was also significant preventive benefit shown in this trial.