From Monday 10th July, Scotland was the first of the UK nations to provide PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) on the NHS to prevent HIV.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) recently approved the use of PrEP to prevent HIV infection, a move widely welcomed by patient groups, sexual health executives and clinicians from Health Protection Scotland and NHS health boards.
PrEP is now available from every NHS board across the country, provided by specialist sexual health services or, in the Island Boards, through locally agreed arrangements.
PrEP is medication for people who are HIV negative to take before sex to reduce the chance of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP if taken consistently can significantly lower the risk of becoming infected with HIV (studies have shown up to a 92 percent reduction in risk). However, because the tablet offers less than 100 percent protection it is important to continue using condoms which can also protect against getting other sexually transmitted infections.
If you are HIV negative but have a high risk of being exposed, you should consider taking PrEP. This would include men who have sex with men or transgender women who have had anal sex without a condom or have been diagnosed with a rectal sexually transmitted infection in the past six months.
For more information on eligibility, what taking PrEP involves and how it works, please visit www.prep.scot
To support Boards with local implementation and ensure that there is a consistent, coordinated approach, a PrEP National Co-ordination Group was established, chaired by Professor David Goldberg, Health Protection Scotland.
Professor Goldberg said: “We are very pleased that PrEP is now available on the NHS throughout Scotland. PrEP provides a vital opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions in Scotland, as well as a way to re-engage people at increased risk of HIV with testing and prevention services. Despite the range of well-established preventative interventions, the rate of HIV transmission has not declined in the past decade. By working together to ensure that PrEP is available through sexual health services, it is hoped that this will change.”