Words: Steve Brown
NHS England have delayed doubling the number of places on the PrEP Impact Trial.
At the start of January, the body backed demands by researchers for trial to increase the number of places on the study from 13,000 to 26,000 after demand for the HIV-prevention medication "significantly exceeded" initial predictions.
The three-year PrEP Impact Trial was launched in October 2017 to assess the impact of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication on HIV transmission in at-risk groups, with 7000 of the 10,000 places being filled within the first eight months.
HIV groups including Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) have reported that some gay and bisexual men have been refused access to the trial, with some going on to be diagnosed with the virus.
The final decision whether to extend access to PrEP to an exta 13,000 at-risk people was meant to be made by the Programme Oversight Board next Tuesday (15 January).
However, in a new statement on the NHS website, it says the Board ‘supported the recommendation in principle’ but before final approval is given, they insisted on ‘rapid engagement with local authority commissioners and research sites to be undertaken’.
Although it claims that that ‘rapid engagement’ is currently underway, it also says that further work will be undertaken between funders and providers to ‘consider the financial impact of this increase’ and the funding implications.
The statement also revealed that community members also ‘stressed the need for more attention to be paid’ for the ‘under-represented communities’ so they can also access the HIV-prevention drug.
Although no time scale was put in place, the statement finished saying the Board will be meeting within the next few weeks to ‘confirm final decisions’ on whether to increase capacity.