NHS secures new deal for life-changing HIV drugs

NHS secures new deal for life-changing HIV drugs
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NHS England has announced they have secured new deals for HIV drugs, leading the way to stop new cases of HIV before 2030.

In a series of national deals struck by the NHS, 87,000 people in treatment for HIV and 61,000 people receiving preventative treatment will now be able to receive new HIV drugs. The newly available treatments include the first long-acting injection for HIV called cabotegravir and rilpivirine, which replace daily tablets with less frequent injections.

NHS England is now on course to become the first country in the world to stop new cases of HIV before 2030 by offering a full range of HIV drugs.

What is HIV?

HIV causes a short flu-like illness following the initial infection. Once these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any symptoms; however, the virus continues to damage the immune system. As a result, many people with HIV will not know they are infected.

Current HIV drugs include antiretroviral medicines that work by stopping the virus from replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair. However, this HIV drug comes in tablet form which can be challenging for people to take.

New HIV drugs available to patients in England

This exciting new HIV drug deal follows the approval of fostemsavir, a drug that tackles multi-drug resistant HIV. This oral medication is licensed specifically for people with limited medical options due to tolerance, resistance or safety concerns.

The benefits of the new HIV drugs are that they are extremely effective. There is virtually no chance that anyone taking this treatment consistent can transmit HIV, supporting NHS England with its mission to become the first healthcare system in the world to reach zero new cases of the virus. However, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can prevent HIV-negative people from catching the virus from untreated or undiagnosed patients.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national NHS medical director said: “We now have a genuine chance of achieving no new HIV infections, thanks to the unparalleled efforts of NHS staff and our ability to get effective drugs into the hands of the people who stand to benefit.

“The health service has a proven track record of striking medicines agreements that give patients access to world-leading care at a price that offers the best value for taxpayers.

“This new, national agreement for HIV drugs, along with better testing, diagnosis and support is spearheading the NHS’ fight against the virus by giving more people the treatment they need to stop its spread.”

Dr Laura Waters, Consultant Physician, HIV lead Central North West London, Chair of the British HIV Association (BHIVA), said: “Ensuring all people with or at risk of HIV have open and equitable access to the best possible options for treatment and prevention is a crucial step to realising the achievable ambition of zero new HIV transmissions. NHS England has ensured that everyone can be offered the drugs most suitable for them in line with national guidelines from BHIVA and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.”



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