By Niall Christie
Scotland has become the first part of the UK to announce that the HIV drug PrEP will be available on the NHS.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved the treatment which is proven to reduce risk of infection by 90%.
Dr Alan MacDonald, chairman of SMC, said: “When used together with safer sex practices (the drug) may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish Government.”
Campaigners who had called for the drug to be made available hailed the SMC for “taking this bold step”, saying the medicine is a “vital opportunity” to reduce the number of new HIV cases.
A coalition of charities in Scotland had collectively campaigned for the drug to be available on the NHS.
Robert McKay, national director for the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: “Today, Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic.
“PrEP can now be used as a vital tool – alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment – to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.”
“Not only will this make a life-changing difference to individuals by protecting them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.”