News | Durkan calls for access to PrEP HIV drugs

Durkan calls for access to PrEP HIV drugs

SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan MLA has called for the Health Minister to bring forward a plan to commission Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs as a preventive treatment for new HIV infections in Northern Ireland.

Mr Durkan’s call came following a High Court ruling that NHS England is responsible for commissioning preventative medication such as PrEP.

He said, “The fight against HIV is one of the greatest challenges facing clinicians and the LGBT community across the world. Now that we have a drug that has been proven to reduce new instances of HIV in high risk patients by up to 86%, it’s clear that we must do all we can to ensure it is available to those who need it.

“The provision of preventative treatment is without doubt a critical aspect of our Health Service. Apart from the long term savings that early intervention provides, there’s a clear moral duty on any public health provider to reduce instances of new conditions and infections. In that context, the Health Minister must commit to bringing forward a plan for commissioning PrEP treatments. Funding may already be available through the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme from large pharmaceutical companies for specialist and experimental medications.

Chair of SDLP LGBT, Matthew Corr, added:

“As a young gay man, I’m extremely aware of the impact that preventative treatment could have for our community and for all those at risk of this virus. The spectre of HIV and AIDS hangs heavily over our community. It is galling to think that a treatment is available that could transform the lives of so many but that Health Services are trying to avoid providing it.

“Narrow judgments on lifestyle play no part in this matter. The only moral imperative here is to save lives and to end the fear that LGBT individuals across these islands face every time they want to be intimate with a new partner. The Health Minister must act.”

Mark H Durkan MLA

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