A “game-changing” drug which dramatically reduces the chances of being infected with HIV is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland.  The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has agreed to approve the treatment, which is known as Prep.  Scientists have found that a daily dose of the drug can protect people at risk of contracting the virus.  It means Scotland will become the first place in the UK to routinely offer Prep to eligible patients. Campaigners welcomed the SMC’s decision, describing it as a “bold step” which could lead to a reduction in the spread of the virus. 
They estimate that up to 1,900 people north of the border could benefit from the drug, which has the brand name Truvada and costs about £450 a month. The anti-retroviral drug is already licensed for use by people diagnosed with HIV in Scotland.  However, the SMC’s decision relates to its use on a preventative basis by people who do not have the virus.  The group said Prep was one aspect of a wider HIV prevention strategy and it should be used in combination with safe sex practices such as using condoms.  SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: “[Prep] when used together with safer sex practices may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish government.” It was one of series of drugs approved by the body, including Kadcyla, which is used to treat aggressive and advanced types of breast cancer.  Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or Prep for short) is a small, blue pill. The pill works by protecting cells in the body and disabling the virus to stop it multiplying – should it enter the body. Taking it once a day has been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86%. It is currently used in the US, Canada, Australia and France to help protect gay men at the highest risk of contracting HIV.

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