Most people will have seen at least a little of the media coverage this week as the Courts rule that NHS England ARE responsible for funding PrEP. How amazing for Positive Life to have been part of such an open debate that has no doubt been a conversation starter across Northern Ireland – hard to believe that we’re talking about sex!
Encouraging also that while some of the national newspapers have seemed intent on dragging us back to the 1980’s, and NHS England looked like appealing the decision, Northern Ireland has cross-party support! Thanks to MLA’s Paula Bradley (DUP) and Mark H Durkin (SDLP). I do hope though that our Minister for Health, Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Fein) looks favourably at giving NI the opportunity to take the lead on what is a huge opportunity to challenge some of the inequalities in health that although not exclusively, certainly disproportionally impact our LGB&T community.
We’re talking a lot about change in delivering healthcare. Programme for Government commits to a focus on outcomes and impact that last beyond the current generation rather than the money spent. If we’re serious about a long term strategy for NI and achieving the highest standard of healthcare for ALL our citizens, then PrEP surely has a key role to play.
As I understand it, PrEP costs around £5,000 per year per person. Treatment for HIV is around £30,000 per year per person. That doesn’t take account of the human cost to individuals (gay and heterosexual), and families across NI who will be affected by one of the 100 or so new diagnosis we currently see every year.
The maths isn’t complicated – PrEP has the potential to alleviate some of the financial burden on local resources freeing up vital funds for other specialist treatments.
So let’s not just TALK about it – #letsdosomethingaboutPrEP