As the world shudders with fear in the wake of COVID-19, the UK has some good news on the healthcare homefront. The National Health Service, the public medical utility which provides care to the nation’s residents, will offer PrEP on a nationwide scale.
Parts of the UK like Scotland and Wales had already begun to distribute PrEP with great success. In the UK, prep users have seen an 86% reduction in new HIV cases. The drug regimen involves patients taking one antiviral pill per day, which prevents the transmission of HIV. Use of the regimen has proven more effective than condoms in preventing the spread of the disease.
The BBC reports that UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock hopes that the easy availability of PrEP will eliminate new HIV cases within 10 years.
AIDS activist Elton John welcomed the news. “Taking PrEP prevents HIV from being passed on, which is truly incredible,” he told the Sunday Times. “It is the right decision for the UK government to roll this out more widely to minimize the spread of this disease so more people are protected – which is critical in fighting any epidemic.”
Though PrEP has grown in popularity within the United States, a number of groups with high-risk for HIV infection, including people of color and lower-income individuals, continue to struggle with access to the drug program.