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House of Commons Hansard
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29 October 2019
Volume 667
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11. What steps he is taking to establish a national programme for PrEP by April 2020. [900203]

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We have expanded access to PrEP—pre-exposure prophylaxis—so that everyone who needs it should have access. Thousands more places remain available on the trial. We are working closely with the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities, who have to play their part, to plan for a seamless transition from the trial to routine commissioning from April next year.

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The Secretary of State gave a personal commitment that the PrEP trial would be extended. He has failed to meet that commitment, and men have contracted HIV as a direct result of the Government’s failure. What faith can people who need PrEP and organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, the NHS and councils have that the Government’s national programme will be ready and able to meet the demand that exists?

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This is an important issue and I care very much about getting the roll-out right. I chastise the hon. Gentleman slightly for his tone. The Minister met the Terrence Higgins Trust yesterday. It agrees with the approach that we are taking. The roll-out from a trial to routine commissioning will happen in April. There are some gaps where local authorities need to do more, but from an NHS perspective, there are thousands more places available on the trial. If the hon. Gentleman feels strongly about the issue, as I do, he should be working with us to get local authorities to do their part, because the NHS is doing its part.

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May I congratulate the Secretary of State on setting the 2030 target on HIV infections? Access to PrEP is vital for reducing new infections, but access to healthcare professional time is also critical. Does he therefore agree with me and the trust that we must do everything to remove the funding and logistical obstacles that are discouraging clinics from filling the many places that are now available on the trial?

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I wholeheartedly agree with my right hon. Friend, who is absolutely spot on about this, but there is more that we need to do in ensuring that the health inequalities of people who are homosexual or LGBT are reduced across the board. We have a whole plan to make that happen. She played an important part in government, and I will rest at nothing to ensure that we address these problems, but we should not engage in the sort of scaremongering that we have heard from the Opposition.

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I hear what the Secretary of State has said, but data from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV have shown that nine gay and bisexual men in Greater Manchester were diagnosed with HIV while waiting to access the PrEP trial. This is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of people who have acquired HIV because they could not access the trial. He will agree that this is totally unacceptable and goes against the Government’s own commitment to eradicate HIV by 2030, so does he think that PrEP should be routinely commissioned before the trial ends in September 2020 and will he commit now to that happening?

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We are switching to routine commissioning from April. It is a deep frustration of mine that some local authorities are not putting in place the necessary measures. I will look into Manchester in particular; I did not know about that example. I personally set the goal of our being HIV-free by 2030. I am delighted that, with the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt) when she was the Minister for Equalities, we have made the progress that we have. I have absolutely no doubt that there is further road to travel and that we should all come together in support of equalities in health provision, especially in this area. I look forward to working with the hon. Lady and all those who are on the side of trying to make this change happen.

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I call Tommy Sheppard. Where is young Sheppard? [Interruption.] He has withdrawn. I was not advised of that. Never mind, he is a most active beaver in the Chamber in normal circumstances. It does not matter that he is not here, because Mr Andrew Rosindell is.

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Speak for Romford!

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Yes, speak for Romford. Well done.