John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets has written to Matt Hancock the Secretary of State for health, to call for the funding of HIV treatment that could stop the unnecessary spread of HIV, saving the NHS millions of pounds.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (known as PrEP) helps reduce the spread of HIV amongst high risk groups such as men who have sex with other men.
Mayor Biggs is calling for the Government to commit to fully fund mainstream provision of PrEP in England and Wales, making PrEP available to all those who need it.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “This is an urgent issue and the Government needs to step up and commit to fully fund the mainstream provision of PrEP in England and Wales to save lives.”
Tower Hamlets is estimated to have the second highest uptake in the country of PrEP amongst men who have sex with men. Community health providers have also effectively promoted Prep to women and residents from other high risk groups.
As part of the London Sexual Health Programme, a pan-London initiative that includes councils across the capital, Tower Hamlets is in discussion with NHS England to increase by 60 per cent the number of available trial places for PrEP.
A trial to promote use of PrEP at the Royal London Hospital showed that within its first year demand for places hugely outstripped supply and the council’s already stretched budget cannot fund the expansion of PrEP.
Tower Hamlets remains an area of large population growth and has seen a significant increase in the number of gay and bisexual men attending sexual health clinics in the borough.
The Public Health grant from the Department of Health does not respond to demographic change and has been reducing year on year. This has resulted in increasing pressures on all areas of public health expenditure in Tower Hamlets including sexual health where the cost of delivering vital prevention services like PrEP constitutes a significant additional burden.
The full letter from Mayor Biggs to the Secretary of State of Health Matt Hancock is found attached.