NICE recommends offering PrEP to those at high risk of HIV

pharmafile | December 17, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications  

People at the highest risk of catching HIV should be offered Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), NICE has recommended for the first time. The announcement comes as NIVE launches a consultation on its draft guideline on reducing sexually transmitted infections, and the recommendation is supported by the government’s HIV Action Plan to reach zero new transmissions of HIV by 2030. 

PrEP is a pill preventing HIV infection, by stopping the virus from crossing into healthy cells and replicating. Since October 2020, the NHS in England has prescribed PrEP to over 26,000 individuals, most of whom are gay and bisexual men, via specialist sexual health services. Those who are taking PrEP must also be supported to receive regular HIV testing, and STI screening, every three months.

Evidence from the UK PROUD study reported that PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by 86% for men who have sex with men. Those who are at highest risk include: HIV-negative men who have condomless sex with other men, HIV-negative heterosexual men and women having condomless sex with partners who are HIV positive, and HIV-negative trans women who are identified as being at elevated risk of HIV acquisition, through condomless sex. Only specialist sexual health services are authorised to prescribe PrEP on the NHS is England. 

The independent NICE guideline committee has recommended that awareness be raised in health professionals who work in primary care, community settings, and gender identity clinics, about which groups of people are eligible for PrEP.

“Thankfully the number of cases of HIV being recorded each year has fallen considerably and the number of people dying from this virus is also receding in the UK,” Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said. “Recommending specialist sexual health clinics offer PrEP to those at the highest risk is another step forward in helping to reduce HIV transmission and could have a transformative effect on helping the UK reach zero HIV transmissions by 2030.”

Ana Ovey

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