PrEP is exciting, new, and currently, unique. It is not a vaccine, although it has a similar impact. We can draw comparisons to statins, in terms of preventing illness, or contraception, in terms of preventing unwanted consequences of sex. But actually, there is nothing quite like it. It is the definition of healthcare innovation. The NHS should be falling over itself to get the benefits, which makes today's response all the more regrettable.
This admirable pledge, which comes with a promise to 'leave no-one behind', will remain no more than a slogan. People who use drugs are being left behind and only a major injection of political courage, backed up by a redirection of the necessary resources away from drug control and into harm reduction, will change this.
Without PreP, we will still see seventeen people diagnosed with HIV every day. Those who will feel the effects the most are the 2,500 men who have sex with men who will be needlessly infected with HIV each year in the UK. Commissioning PreP could be the beginning of the end of the HIV epidemic. Surely these issues are more important than a clamp down on poppers?
The 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) next week will see all eyes on the WHO again after a turbulent couple of years. Condemned for its failings in the global response to Ebola, stuck in a process of reform that everyone agrees is needed but no-one knows how, and on the brink of declaring yellow fever a public health emergency of international concern, things are hotting up for the election of the new Director General.
While making PrEP available is ultimately a decision for NHS England, rather than for politicians, I hope they will take steps to make PrEP available to people considered to be at high risk of catching the virus, without further delay. This could have an enormous impact on the lives of countless numbers of people in high-risk groups and be a vast improvement on our current approach, which wastes NHS resources and has let down far too many people.