New use for HIV drug for people at highest risk

Publication Date: 10 April 2017

Today’s decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) to approve medication to prevent HIV infection has been widely welcomed by patient groups, sexual health executives and clinicians from Health Protection Scotland and NHS health boards.

The SMC has approved Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/Emtricitabine (known as TDF/FTC and commercially as Truvada™) for use as a prevention drug in combination with safer sex practices across NHS Scotland.

This prevention method is known as HIV ‘pre-exposure prophylaxis’ or ‘PrEP’ and provides an additional way to prevent HIV being passed on. TDF/FTC has been used with other medications to treat people already infected with HIV in Scotland since 2006.

This latest development is supported by the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (SHBBV) Executive Leads Network. Ann Eriksen, Co-Chair, said: “PrEP is for specific HIV negative individuals at the time in their life when they are at highest risk of sexually acquired HIV infection. The drug is intended to be used in combination with existing interventions to promote safer sex and as part of a comprehensive approach to HIV prevention. PrEP will not be a replacement for condom use and it will continue to be important for individuals to test regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Dr Rak Nandwani, Chair of the Scottish Short Life Working Group on PrEP, said: “Despite advances in treatment and care, HIV changes the life of people who become infected, not just in terms of health, but also relationships and well-being. International randomised controlled trials have demonstrated a substantial reduction in HIV transmission using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The provision of NHS-funded PrEP, combined with other prevention interventions, is a total game-changer that will lead to a drop in the number of HIV infections in the UK.”

Professor David Goldberg, Consultant Epidemiologist, Health Protection Scotland, added: “We will now work together to ensure that PrEP can be made available through sexual health services within the usual 90 days following a decision by the SMC.”