Halifax centre to pilot pioneering HIV prevention drug

Broad Street Health Clinic in Halifax
Broad Street Health Clinic in Halifax

Halifax has been selected to trial a new drug designed to prevent the transmission of HIV.

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, widely known as PrEP, is a daily pill that is available to those who are considered to be at the highest risk of contracting the virus.

As part of new research, the PrEP Impact Trial will offer 10,000 applicants nationwide the opportunity to access the drug for free, with applications to access the medicine now open at Halifax’s Broad Street Plaza clinic.

The launch of the trial comes after the NHS lost a Supreme Court Battle in which they argued that the responsibility to fund the drug was with the local authority on account of it being a preventative medicine and not a treatment.

Without funding, PrEP can be highly expensive, and to buy it privately it has to be shipped from overseas and at a cost of £1,000 a year, many people within high risk communities can’t afford to access it.

Dr Maneh Farazmand is the Research Lead for Halifax Sexual Health Services and the Principal Investigator for the PrEP Study in the trust.

She said that Halifax was chosen to be part of the trial because of it’s “excellent reputation” when it comes to sexual health research.

“Halifax has been the second centre after Leeds to offer PrEP, in contrast to other centres within West Yorkshire which are still awaiting the trial centre permission to start,” she explained.

“We have had an excellent response to the trial and nearly all the spaces have been filled in.”

“The PrEP Impact Trial was first rolled out to all the major cities across the UK including London, Birmingham and Manchester, with smaller towns being given access to the medicine within the last few months.

It will act as a tool for the NHS to evaluate how many people would want to access PrEP and for how long they would be likely to use it.

A preliminary trial named PROUD has already been completed by the University College London revealed that PrEP was 86% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV, with other

trials claiming a 99% proficiency.

Campaigners hope the launch of the trial will reduce the rate of HIV acquisition in the town’s high risk populations, in turn reducing the spiralling cost of living with the HIV infection.