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New pill to enable safer promiscuity

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A new HIV prevention drug is to be provided by the NHS from September.

NHS England announced that Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP will be made available to sexual health clinics across the UK. In an initial 3 year trial a minimum of 10,000 individuals will be offered the drug.

Ian Green, CEO of Terrence Higgins Trust says: "The priority must now be to make sure that the trial reaches everyone at risk of HIV, and that it is rolled out speedily across the whole country, by the end of this year at the very latest. Spring 2018 is not soon enough. Now that the PrEP trial drug has been procured, we're well on the way to protecting over 10,000 people at risk of HIV.

"To make sure no-one at risk of HIV is left behind, it is crucial that at the end of this trial in three years time, a clear process for routinely commissioning PrEP on the NHS is agreed."

Deborah Gold, chief executive at NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: "We already know that PrEP brings down rates of HIV infection, changing lives for those at risk and saving public money. We now need to work with NHS England, local authorities, and the sexual health sector to make sure the widest possible range of eligible people at high risk of HIV have access to the trial.

"We will continue to monitor the uptake of PrEP, aiming to learn as much as possible about how to get PrEP to all those who need it most. This is a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV. PrEP, if targeted properly at those in need and at high risk of HIV, offers the possibility of transforming the English HIV epidemic.

"From September, people at high risk of HIV will have access via the NHS in England to an empowering new tool that is truly individual controlled and not subject to negotiation with a partner, leading to the improvement of many, many lives."


HIV continues to spread

In 2015, an estimated 101,200 people were living with HIV in the UK.  The problem is not going away and is actually increasing, so it is understandable that there is such an urgent attempt to halt the virus' progress.

But why does HIV continue to spread? Both Terrence Higgins Trust and NAT indicate that there are particular individuals who are at 'high risk' of contracting HIV. Who are these individuals? What puts them at particular high risk? How can those at particularly high risk no longer be at high risk? Assessing who actually contracts HIV is crucial in answering these questions and in dealing with any ethical implications the PrEP trial may have.


The grim reality

First, we must recognise that HIV is a STD, spelled out this is a sexually transmitted disease. NAT observes 'Over 95% of people living with HIV in the UK have acquired HIV through sex without a condom.' This helps us begin to clarify who those considered to be at 'high risk' of contracting HIV, but only to a point. We do know that not all sex without a condom is dangerous, that is that which is enjoyed by a faithfully married man and woman. So who exactly then is at risk?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the following USA stats from 2014:

●             Gay and bisexual men accounted for 83% (29,418) of the estimated new HIV diagnoses among all males aged 13 and older and 67% of the total estimated new diagnoses in the United States.

●             Gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 92% of new HIV diagnoses among all men in their age group and 27% of new diagnoses among all gay and bisexual men.

UK figures of HIV diagnoses show less differentiation in HIV stats between hetero and homosexuals but the overall picture is very much the same.  The Terrence Higgins Trust admits that new diagnoses among men who have sex with men (commonly referred in shorthand as MSM) continues to surpass the number among heterosexuals (3,320 MSM and 2,360 heterosexuals in 2015).

The stats don't lie. Homosexual intercourse is the leading factor in the spread of HIV. That said, it is not the only factor. Rampant heterosexual promiscuity has deeply damaged our society eating away at the foundational building blocks of our society, wrecking individual lives and whole families. In 2008, Britain was declared as among the casual sex capitals of the world. In 2012, Christian Concern reported on a survey that indicated the nation's sexual promiscuity was costing the UK billions of pounds. At the time, Chief Executive of Christian Concern Andrea Williams said:

"As the UK has chosen secular humanism, including widespread sexual license, over Christian faith and morality, society has suffered greatly in a variety of ways. It is time for public policy to take into account the high cost of the so-called sexual revolution."


An honest appraisal is needed

While the attempt to halt the spread of HIV in the UK is certainly noble and is a desirable goal, we do have to be honest about what the soon to be trialled PrEP says about our society. We do not want to tackle the root of the problem. We would rather have access to what some are terming a 'promiscuity pill' than grab the bull by horns and say that homosexual behaviour and heterosexual activity outside of marriage is harmful and dangerous and therein revealed as wrong.

Churches, Christian leaders, and Christian individuals must recognise the importance of boldly speaking out in favour of God's created and healthy model for sexual relationships - that shared between a husband and wife in the context of marriage. We must stop seeing discussion of sexual ethics as an elephant in the room and something to try to ignore and actually faithfully highlight what is sexually right and wrong. In failing to address the real problem, we will see dangerous homosexual activity and heterosexual promiscuity increase and will continue to see Britain become less and less 'Great'.

Related Links:
NHS Scotland to fund 'promiscuity safety net' drug
NHS to spend 10m on clinical trials for 'HIV prevention drug'