Andy Slaughter MP calls for greater action on sexual health access

Image above: Andy Slaughter MP in the House of Commons on Thursday

Hammersmith MP says all pharmacies should have the drug in stock

The MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter has called for greater action on sexual health access, HIV testing and Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to be available in pharmacies.

Speaking in The House of Commons on Thursday (8 February), as part of session marking HIV testing week in the UK, Mr. Slaughter used his time to call for greater access to the drug, which prevents HIV infection if a person comes into contact with the virus.

In his speech, Mr. Slaughter commended the efforts of healthcare professionals and organisations dedicated to HIV prevention and treatment. He specifically acknowledged the vital role played by clinics such as the one in his constituency at 10 Hammersmith Broadway, stating:

“They offer a fantastic service and they are engineering testing and comprehensive treatment under very difficult circumstances and with very limited resources.”

Reflecting on the advancements in HIV prevention and treatment, Mr. Slaughter highlighted the importance of early diagnosis and effective treatment, commenting:

“We know now that early diagnosis is important but, after diagnosis, those who are infected can live normal lives of normal duration. That would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago.”

Despite these advancements, Mr. Slaughter highlighted persistent challenges, particularly regarding testing accessibility and the availability of preventive measures like PrEP. He emphasised the need for expanded opt-out testing, saying:

“One of the solutions, which the Government are expanding, is opt-out testing in A&E and other locations. That needs to be embedded and extended.”

Mr. Slaughter also raised concerns about the strain on sexual health clinics and the resulting delays in PrEP prescriptions, adding:

“The waiting times are still far too long, but at one stage they were being measured in months rather than weeks. It is clearly a missed opportunity if people are willing to be prescribed PrEP and understand its advantages, but are not receiving prescriptions because they simply cannot get an appointment at their local clinic.”

In his closing remarks, Mr Slaughter urged the government to take decisive action, calling for increased resources for sexual health clinics and further commitments to opt-out testing. He proposed exploring alternative avenues for PrEP prescription, including pharmacies.

“It has been suggested that, given the expansion in services now provided by pharmacies, PrEP could be added to them. I see no reason why that cannot be the case”