Stock photo of a patient taking an HIV test
Stock photo of a patient taking an HIV test

On Tuesday the High Court ruled that the NHS in England must start funding an HIV prevention drug.

The NHS had previously argued it wasn't legally obliged to pay for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or 'prep', and its duty of care did not include prevention.

Charitable organisation the National Aids Trust (Nat) took NHS England to court and won, in a decision that has been hailed as "ground breaking".

Prep is a retroviral that, when taken consistently, has a 90 per cent effectiveness rate in stopping HIV being contracted after exposure to the virus.

Around 4,000 people in the UK contract HIV every year. Campaigners say prep is essential for safe-guarding the lives of people at risk from HIV and Aids.

The catch is that it's expensive - and NHS England are worried that funding it will open the door to legal challenges for other "treatments and interventions that could be displaced by Prep”.

There is evidence-based research that shows that prep saves money in HIV-related treatments in the long run, in much the same way we try to combat obesity or smoking before they become health issues.

But there appears to a fair amount of punitive or moralistic arguments, plus the false equivalence between paying for prep and paying for cancer drugs or cataract surgery, in much of the right wing media today:

NHS England is appealing the ruling.

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