MP, Mike Freer, met with Jane Ellison, the Public Health Minister, today to discuss NHS England’s decision not to fund PrEP (pre-exposure prophylactic) an anti-retroviral drug which could reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV by up to 90%.
The meeting was attended by the Terrence Higgins Trust, The Gay Men’s Health Charity and NAZ. It was an opportunity for the Minister to listen to stakeholders’ positions with regards to PrEP and why they felt NHS England’s decision not to fund it was the wrong one.
The meeting had been arranged in response to Mr Freer’s Prime Minister’s Question on May 11, where he emphasised to the Prime Minister than PrEP was key to addressing the significant rise in HIV infection rates across the UK.
However, on May 31st NHS England announced it would not be funding the anti-HIV drug. During an Urgent Question in the Commons following NHS England’s announcement, Mr Freer said it was “not acceptable to…simply continue to do the same” when HIV infection rates are on the increase.
The Public Health Minister agreed to engage on this issue and admitted more needs to be done. Ms Ellison stated that the Government I committed to finding a way forward that is both clinically and financially sustainable.
On 11th June, Public Health England invited Mike Freer to join its HIV Prevention England Steering Committee. In response to this invitation Mr Freer commented:
“I’m delighted to be invited to take a leading role in the PHE’s influential HIV Prevention England Steering Committee. As Chair of the APPG on HIV & AIDS, sexual health and prevention is one of my leading campaigns.
“Having watched many decisions taking place from the outside looking in, I’m very much looking forward to being a part of the decision-making process from a different standpoint.”