Ahead of World AIDS Day this Wednesday, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has urged the government to widen access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by making it available through community pharmacies. It argues that such a move could drive down rates of HIV infection across Great Britain.

Currently, the medicine — which offers almost total protection from HIV when taken as recommended prior to sex or injecting drugs — is available free of charge only through sexual health clinics.

Calling on the government to engage with community pharmacies to improve public health, RPS president Claire Anderson said: “There is a clear opportunity to drive down rates of HIV infection by expanding provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to community pharmacies and GP practices as part of the government’s HIV Action Plan.

“Community pharmacies are highly trusted and conveniently located, providing a much wider reach than specialist services can on their own. Pharmacies see those who may be reluctant or unable to attend other health services, play a vital role in reducing harm, and provide rapid access to health and care.

“This highly effective medicine should be made as easily accessible as possible to those who need it. We urge the government to make PrEP available through community pharmacies as soon as possible.”

PrEP is essentially a tablet which contains tenofovir and emtricitabine, drugs commonly used to treat HIV.

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