Mail columnist: NHS shouldn’t fund HIV-preventing drugs

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A Daily Mail columnist has claimed that HIV-preventing drugs should not be available on the NHS – because it would “only encourage reckless behaviour”.

Pundit Amanda Platell – who was previously press secretary to William Hague when he was Tory leader – made the claims after a study found that PrEP drug Truvada was 86% effective at preventing transmission of HIV when taken by healthy men.

AIDS charities have called for the drug to be available to gay men on the NHS, following the study – but Ms Platell made the outlandish claim that it would encourage “risky behaviour”.

She also said the NHS had already spent “million of pounds” on AIDS prevention – and suggested money be spent on cancer treatments instead.

Ms Platell said in part: “The National Aids Trust says the cost of the revolutionary new drug PrEP can be justified because of the long-term costs of treating HIV.

“They insist the NHS has an ‘ethical duty’ to protect men from the disease as there are 2,500 new cases of HIV in gay men in the UK each year, despite the millions of pounds of public money spent raising awareness of unsafe sex since the Eighties.

“What kind of ethics is it to save one group of society from a disease that can be prevented by using a £1 condom, while denying cancer sufferers a longer life?

“In a country where the elderly die neglected in hospital corridors, where life-extending drugs are denied people with leukaemia and lymphoma, and life-enhancing Alzheimer’s drugs are restricted, I would suggest it can’t make sense to provide expensive drugs for a minority of healthy people who make a lifestyle choice not to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.”

Her advice for at-risk groups was: “If you don’t want to get HIV, use condoms. After all, they’re already free on the NHS.”