Tag Archives: Scotland

Scotland first in UK to approve anti-HIV drug

Today the Scottish Medicines Consortium announced that PrEP is now approved for prescription on the NHS in Scotland, making it the first of the UK countries to make PrEP available on the NHS.

(Story via HIVScotland)

Availability and prescribing details are currently being confirmed by health boards but we understand patients should be able to access NHS funded PrEP within the next month in Scotland.

HIV Scotland believes this is a fantastic outcome towards reducing HIV transmissions, and shows what progress can be made when professionals and the community are able to join together to learn from each other and find solutions. Hundreds of community members across Scotland got in touch with us and other charities, attending information events, contributing to consultations and decision making groups, appealing to clinics. This outcome was only made possible by these collaborations.

We are promoting a live Twitter videocast tonight (10 April) between 9PM and 10PM – where a panel from HIV Scotland, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, and Waverley Care will answer initial questions from the community.

HIV Scotland will continue to offer our support to decision makers and service providers to make sure that PrEP and related HIV prevention services are ready.

We are making up-to-date information available on our website, and we will host an additional live twitter videocast for community to hear from a panel of doctors, nurses and other experts in April or May 2017 (specific date to be decided so stay tuned) by which time we expect implementation details to have been decided.

From our conversations with community over the past six months it is clear to us that there is a growing demand for access to PrEP in Scotland, and also a large amount of uncertaintly. If you consider that almost everyone knows fundamentally what a condom is and how it works, but few people as yet understand the basics of PrEP. This has implications not only for the people who are interested in taking or already use PrEP, but also for their sexual partners. In addition to this we need to ensure that service providers are confident in their own knowledge.

To address this we have partnered with the University of Edinburgh to develop very basic PrEP information resources, using the HIV Literacy work developed by Dr Ingrid Young, and will continue to support work through the SHBBV Executive Leads, NHS Education Scotland, and SHIVAG to make PrEP information available to professionals.

In the meantime if you have any questions at all please get in touch with Kelsey Smith.

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(Scotland): Decision due on ‘game-changer’ Prep HIV drug

Medical chiefs in Scotland are due to announce whether a “game-changing” drug which can prevent HIV infection will be made available on the NHS.

(Story via BBC)

Research suggests a daily dose of a drug known as Prep can protect people at risk of contracting the virus.

HIV Scotland said it was “very hopeful” the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) would approve the medication.

It means Scotland would become the first place in the UK to make it available on the NHS.

Campaigners estimate that up to 1,900 people north of the border could benefit from the drug, which has the brand name Truvada.

The anti-retroviral drug is currently licensed for use in Scotland, where it is used by people already diagnosed with HIV.

However, the SMC’s decision relates to its use on a preventative basis by people who do not have the virus.

What does Prep do?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or Prep for short) is a small, blue pill.

The pill works by protecting cells in the body and disabling the virus to stop it multiplying – should it enter the body.

Taking it once a day has been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86%.

It is currently used in the US, Canada, Australia and France to help protect gay men at the highest risk of contracting HIV.


There is a growing demand for the treatment in Scotland, according to HIV Scotland’s chief executive George Valiotis.

He estimates that “a couple of dozen” Scots are using variants of the drug after buying generic versions online.

The Scottish government wrote to Gilead, the manufacturer of Truvada, to urge them to make an application to the SMC last year.

It followed a series of legal battles in England over whether the NHS or local authorities should pay for the medication.

The Court of Appeal eventually ruled that NHS England had the power to fund the drug,

The decision did not mean that NHS England had to fund Prep but in December it announced plans for a large scale clinical trial of the drug, expected to involve 10,000 participants over three years.


‘Why I buy Prep online’

Gordon Garioch is one of around “a couple of dozen” people in Scotland thought to be taking Prep regularly.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland that he was initially prescribed the drug by a private clinic but it was too expensive.

He now spends around £50 a month on a generic form of the drug he purchases from an online pharmacy.

“It gives me reassurance,” he said. “I’ve always been careful.

“My friends have always been careful but for some reason they became positive. So I take this extra reassurance for me to prevent myself becoming positive.”

Asked what the benefits of the decision would be, he replied: “To me personally, obviously it would be the cost.

“But it’s a generation thing as well, to prevent HIV for future generations for people who are not as lucky as myself who can pay for it.”


Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Valiotis, of HIV Scotland, said: “Prep makes good sense. We know that it works. We know that it stops people from getting HIV, and we know that it’s cost-effective.

“And because it’s cost-effective, what that means is that it makes more money available in the long-term on the NHS to treat lots of other things as well.”

Asked if he thought the SMC would approve the drug, he said: “I’m feeling pretty hopeful because the cost-effectiveness is clear, as is the clinical-effectiveness.

“We know this works. I would be surprised if it’s a no but it’s too hard to guess.”

HIV Scotland believes the use of Prep has played a part in reducing the number of HIV infections in Scotland.

The latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show 285 new cases of HIV were reported in 2016, down from an annual average of 359 over the last five years.

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Warnings over five-fold increase in HIV in Glasgow area

needles

Health officials in the Glasgow area have warned people who inject drugs about an outbreak of HIV after a near five-fold increase in the city.

On average, about 10 new cases are diagnosed in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area each year as a result of drug injecting.  But the health board said that rose to 47 last year.

They are now warning drug users of the dangers of sharing needles and advising anyone who injects to get tested.  For the first time in almost 30 years, new diagnoses of HIV related to drug injecting was at a comparable level among gay and heterosexual men.

Investigations into the outbreak highlighted that some drug users were sharing needles, syringes, spoons and water when preparing and injecting their drugs.  It has also highlighted that there is low awareness of the risks of HIV from doing so.

Dr Catriona Milosevic, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), said it was “vitally important” that people who inject drugs do not share or reuse equipment.

She said: “This includes when injecting with close friends or partners – you can’t guess whether someone has HIV, and they may have no symptoms and be unaware themselves.

“Everyone involved needs to use a new set of sterile injecting equipment every single time, including needles, syringes, water, filters, and spoons, to protect themselves and others. These are all available from injecting equipment services.”

Dr Milosevic said the goal was to get people drug free, but until that is achieved the focus had to be on harm reduction.

Although there is no cure for HIV, there are now treatments which reduce the virus to what doctors describe as “undetectable” levels.  Dr Milosevic added:

“Recent discussions have highlighted that those at risk are not aware of the huge advancements made in HIV treatment – there is still a perception that a diagnosis of HIV is a ‘death sentence’.

“If people are diagnosed and start treatment early, which requires a test, they can have a similar life expectancy as the rest of the population.”

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Police ask for condom ban in Edinburgh saunas

You don't see police officers working without protection do you?

You don’t see police officers working without protection do you?

Police Scotland has written to Edinburgh City Council arguing that if it grants licences for five saunas it should be on condition that no items of a sexual nature are allowed on the premises.

Sex workers’ charity Scot-pep has condemned the police proposal saying it could lead to an HIV epidemic.  A council decision on new licence rules could end Edinburgh’s more tolerant attitude to the sex trade.

Campaigners for a safer sex trade have said that any ban on condoms would not stop people having sex but it would result in unprotected sex and higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Earlier this year, six other saunas had their licences suspended following raids across Edinburgh.

Nadine Stott, a board member of the charity Scot-Pep, which campaigns for the rights of sex workers, said: “This goes against all basic common sense. It also places Scotland really out of step with the rest of the world.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) just last week released guidelines on sex workers and HIV that specifically stated where countries use condoms as evidence of sex work that should be stopped immediately.”

She added: “We are really shocked that, in private, the police have been quite clear to us. They said that the policy (on saunas) wasn’t changing.

“We think this highlights how inappropriate the police are as a regulatory body of sex workers in a criminal context.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police Scotland recently provided reports to the Council Regulatory Committee in respect of a number of public entertainment licence renewals.

“In cases where there was evidence of criminality or premises operating out-with the conditions of their licence, objections were made to those licences being renewed.

“Police Scotland will continue to work with partners to inspect and report on licensed premises operating within Edinburgh in order to keep people safe.

“Whenever criminal activity, or licensing contraventions are detected within these venues, officers will respond appropriately and report all offences to the relevant authority.”

Prof Alison McCallum, NHS Lothian’s director of public health, said: “For many years, we have provided sexual health services, mental health services, hepatitis immunisations and drug and alcohol support in accessible clinics for sex workers.

“Over the last year this has involved more than 300 consultations with women.

“We promote safe sex and awareness of infections amongst sex workers.

“Condom use is always advised and condoms are made freely available.”

Deborah Jack, chief executive of National AIDS Trust, said: “Making condoms a reason to lose a sauna licence will not stop sex, it will stop safer sex and put at risk often very vulnerable people.

“Edinburgh led the way in the early years of HIV in harm reduction, pioneering clean needle programmes in the UK for people who use drugs and halting the spread of HIV in that community.

“We urge the city now to remember that proud heritage and not penalise condom use.

“It would be the worst sort of public health own goal.”

Story from the BBC

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