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HIV prevention drug trial to be expanded in England

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A trial of the HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in England is being expanded

New places on the programme are now starting to be released in a bid to gather more evidence to inform the design and rollout of a full national programme.

More 11,500 people have already enrolled in the trial of PrEP in England. Researchers want the size of the trial to be doubled to 26,000.

In January, national leaders in the “PrEP Oversight Board” agreed in principle to double the number of places available but wanted more information on the impact on services.

NHS England has already committed to provide funding for the PrEP drug and research costs for up to 26,000 individuals, based on the current terms.

Before finalising arrangements and releasing places, participating clinics and local authority commissioners were asked to confirm if they had the capacity to take on additional places.

Around 80% of clinics have given the thumbs-up and the majority of sites have also received approval from their commissioners to proceed.

However, while agreeing to an expansion, commissioners in London have requested extra time to confirm how many extra places they can accept.

In the meantime, for trial sites outside of London, the research team will now make arrangements to release the extra places.

John Stewart, director of specialised commissioning at NHS England, said: “Through the PrEP trial, over 11,500 people are already receiving access to this important HIV prevention measure.

“This expansion will help ensure the learning from the trial is robust enough to fully inform the planning of a national PrEP programme in partnership with local authorities for the future, as well as protecting more people from HIV right now,” he added.

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