Welsh government working group tasked with looking into how to roll out PrEP provision to community pharmacies

The HIV action plan, published in June 2022, set out 26 actions for the Welsh government and its partners to reduce HIV transmissions in Wales.
A young man takes a prep in a pill.

The Welsh government has tasked a working group with looking at how pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can be provided via community pharmacies, a year after its draft HIV action plan said access to PrEP should be expanded to include pharmacies, particularly in rural areas.

Published on 14 June 2022, the ‘HIV Action Plan for Wales’ set out 26 actions for the Welsh government and its partners to reduce HIV transmissions and improve the lives of people living with HIV in Wales.

Its recommendations included that primary care and specialist sexual health services should introduce shared care models to improve access and delivery of PrEP, with the plan stating that “this will enable PrEP to be provided by GPs and community pharmacies in all health board areas, with particular emphasis on delivery in rural areas and in underserved communities”.

On 13 June 2023, a spokesperson for the Welsh government told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “A working group is looking at what actions are required to improve access and delivery of PrEP in the community, including making PrEP available for dispensing by community pharmacies [and] will provide an update on progress later [in 2023].”

Rhys Goode, head of Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru — which partnered with the Welsh government on the HIV action plan — commented on progress of the plan’s recommendations: “The fight for PrEP isn’t over while many, particularly in rural Wales, can’t access it.”

He confirmed that the charity will “continue to work with partners within the Welsh government, Public Health Wales and Fast Track Cymru to make this a reality”. 

“Wales is currently working towards the UNAIDS target of ending new HIV cases by 2030 — raising awareness of PrEP and addressing the stark inequalities in access are fundamental to this achieving this goal. The clock to 2030 is ticking,” Goode added.

In April 2023, The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed that government advisers had recommended a series of national pilots in England for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) provision in settings outside specialist sexual health clinics, including pharmacies.

According to documents seen by The Pharmaceutical Journal, the ‘PrEP access and equity task and finish group’ — which was established by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in October 2022 — said: “The Department for Health and Social Care must commit to swiftly considering the findings of PrEP pilots and if successful, commission PrEP beyond sexual health services nationally.”

On 13 July 2023, responding to a request for an update on PrEP provision in England, a spokesperson for the DHSC told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “New HIV transmissions in England have fallen by almost a third since 2019, and fewer people remain unaware of their HIV status as a result of increased testing across the country but we know more must be done.”

The spokesperson added that the DHSC has created a Community Advisory Group, chaired by the National AIDS Trust and the LGBT Foundation, to advise the HIV Action Plan Implementation Steering Group through the lifetime of the HIV action plan.

The spokesperson added: “Regional HIV action plans have been developed in areas such as the South West, working groups set up in the Midlands, stock-takes of testing activity and action via sexual health networks in the South East and North East and Yorkshire, and regional HIV action planning workshops as in the East of England.”

  • This article was amended and the headline changed on 17 July 2023 to clarify the progress being made by the Welsh government in regards to PrEP provision in community pharmacy
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2023, Vol 311, No 7975;311(7975)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.191439

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