NHS England will not pay for new HIV prevention treatment

NHS England has announced  that local councils will be responsible for funding the new HIV treatment PrEP.

This is a missed opportunity to launch a ground-breaking prevention method that could halt the spread of HIV, potentially save lives, and make a significant breakthrough in reducing the risk of HIV infection. Councils have invested millions in providing sexual health services since taking over responsibility for public health three years ago, and this treatment could help reduce levels of HIV in the community.

It is also not right that councils should be made to foot the bill. In stating that local authorities are responsible for commissioning HIV prevention, NHS England adopts what is, in our view, a wholly inadequate position.

During the transition period to implementation of the NHS and Care Act 2010, NHS England sought to retain commissioning of HIV therapeutics, which the PrEP treatment clearly falls into.  It is, and should remain, an NHS responsibility unless it is fully funded for local authorities to pass on.

NHS England’s statement is a selective and untenable reading of the Public Health Regulations 2013 and an attempt to create a new and unfunded burden on local authorities.