NHS bosses in England will reconsider whether it is their responsibility to fund a new treatment that can prevent the spread of HIV.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a new way of using antiretroviral drugs that has been proven to stop HIV transmission in almost every case.
Last month NHS England said HIV prevention responsibilities lay with local councils as it announced it would no longer consider whether to offer the treatment, the National Aids Trust (NAT) said.
There was public outcry when NHS England said it was not their decision to make and the NAT threatened the health body with legal action.
However, NHS England said on Tuesday that its specialised commissioning committee will consider whether to put PrEP back into the NHS decision-making process.
“NHS England had previously told us that it was impossible for them to reconsider their decision. Faced with legal action, they have now changed their mind. We trust that NHS England, when it re-evaluates its position, will come back with a resounding yes.
“PrEP is one of the most exciting prevention options to emerge since the HIV epidemic began and offers the prospect of real success in combating this virus. To deny the proper process to decide whether to commission PrEP, when 17 people are being diagnosed with HIV every day, is not only morally wrong but legally wrong also.”
An NHS England spokesman said: “Final decisions on PrEP have not yet been taken, and we have agreed to consider representations from some stakeholders before deciding on next steps on the appropriate way forward.”
Local Government Association community wellbeing spokeswoman, Izzi Seccombe, said it was pleased and encouraged by the NHS England’s decision.
“Councils are keen to work with NHS England and the Department of Health to find a solution which can enable this ground-breaking prevention method to be delivered throughout our communities,” she said.
“Councils have invested millions in providing sexual health services since taking over responsibility for public health three years ago, and this treatment could help reduce levels of HIV in the community. However, our position has always been that responsibility for funding PrEP should lie within the NHS rather than councils.
“We look forward to working with NHS England to find an agreeable way forward that will resolve this issue.”