A “game-changing” drug which dramatically reduces the the possibility of being infected with HIV is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium( SMC) has agreed to approve the treatment, which is known as Prep.
Scientists have found that a daily dosage of the medicine can protect people at risk of contracting the virus.
It intends Scotland will become the first place in the UK to regularly give Prep to eligible patients.
Campaigners greeted the SMC’s decision, describing him as a “bold step” which could lead to a decrease in the spread of the virus.
They estimate that up to 1,900 people north of their own borders could benefit from the medicine, which has the brand name Truvada and costs about 450 a month.
Safe sex practices
The anti-retroviral medicine is already licensed for utilize by people diagnosed with HIV in Scotland.
However, the SMC’s decision relates to its utilize on a preventative basis by people who do not have the virus.
The group announced Prep was one aspect of a wider HIV prevention strategy and it should be used in combination with safe sex practices such as employing condoms.
SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald announced: “[ Prep] when used together with safer sex practices may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish government.”
It was one of serial of drugs approved by the body, including Kadcyla, which is used to treat aggressive and advanced types of breast cancer.
What does Prep do?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis( or Prep for short) is a small, blue pill.
The pill works by safeguarding cells in their own bodies and disabling the virus to stop it multiplying – should it enter the body.
Taking it once a day has been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86%.
It is currently used in the US, Canada, Australia and France to help protect gay men at the highest risk of contracting HIV.
The decision on Prep was welcomed by a group of charities, including HIV Scotland and the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, which had campaigned as The Prep4Scotland Coalition.
In a statement, “theyre saying”: “We applaud the SMC for taking this bold pace to tackling HIV in Scotland.
“Prep provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher danger of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention opportunities, and it is a vital given an opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions.
“All NHS Boards in Scotland need to now follow the SMC’s advice and ensure they’re stirring Prep available to those who need it, so that no-one at risk is left behind.”
Robert McKay, the national head for the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said here move could save the health service millions of pounds.
“Today, Scotland has established record in the fight against the HIV epidemic, ” he announced.
“Prep can now be used as a vital tool – alongside condom utilize, regular testing and early treatment – to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.
“Not only will this make a life-changing difference to someones by is the protection from a lifelong and stigmatised situation, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without Prep, NHS Scotland will save 360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.”
Earlier, HIV Scotland’s chief executive George Valiotis said that there was a developing demand for the treatment in Scotland.
He estimated that “a couple of dozen” Scots are already employing variants of the medicine after buying generic versions online.
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