Elton John “overjoyed” that HIV drug PrEP will finally be rolled out across England after years of fighting by campaigners

PrEP will finally be rolled out across England after years of fighting

British star Elton John is “overjoyed” that the government will roll out HIV-prevention drug PrEP across England, after years of fighting by sexual-health campaigners.

The drug – a pill, taken daily, that stops the virus taking hold in people who have been exposed to it – will be available across England on the NHS.

The Department of Health will announce that PrEP will be available to anyone in England at risk of contracting HIV, according to Buzzfeed News.

This will replace the current “impact trial”, which has seen around 20,000 at-risk people able to access PrEP on the NHS, but without the cap on numbers that has limited those who could access it.

The decision was welcomed by British rock star and Aids activist Sir Elton John, who said he was “overjoyed” by the decision to provide the drug, describing it as “truly incredible”.

In 2018, a total of 103,800 people were HIV positive, with around seven percent of those unaware that they had contracted the virus.

From April, local authorities will be given funding so that, for the first time, they can commission services to provide PrEP to those most at risk of HIV, including gay and bisexual men, intravenous drug users and sex workers.

NHS England will cover the cost of the drug and £16m of funding will be made available for related services like HIV testing.

The news comes one year after the government pledged to reduce the number of new HIV transmissions to zero by 2030.

At the time, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that Britain would become “one of the first countries to reach the UN zero infections target by 2030”.

Leading PrEP campaigners have welcomed the news of the rollout.

“After over 5 years of fighting, including two court cases, individuals having to rely on buying PrEP online, or on a Trial that has often been full, we applaud that a decision has finally been made about funding PrEP in England,” said Will Nutland, co-founder of campaign group PrEPster, in a statement.

“It is right that cash-strapped local authorities that are struggling to maintain levels of services in many areas, including public health, should be finally receiving additional funding to provide their component of a PrEP service.”