02.08.16 | by Ian Howley

The NHS in England has been told by the High Court it can fund a "game-changing" drug that can prevent HIV after health bosses argued it was not their responsibility.

NHS England had said it was up to councils to provide the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug as they are in charge of preventative health.

But that stance was challenged by the National Aids Trust.

The judge said there was nothing to stop the NHS paying for the drug.

The ruling by Mr Justice Green said health bosses had "erred" in arguing it was not their responsibility.

But that does not mean it will now be automatically funded.

NHS England has already announced it will appeal the ruling - and even if that goes against health bosses it is not a given that Prep will be considered effective enough to warrant NHS funding.

To determine that NHS England has announced it will carry out a review of the evidence on Prep while it awaits an Court of Appeal hearing.

Although the court judgement suggests that there is a compelling case for the treatment to be funded.

Using PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90%.

The once-a-day pill, which costs £400 a month per person, works by disabling the virus to stop it multiplying.

The idea is to give it to uninfected men who are having unprotected sex with other men.

READ: New PrEP ruling: but what does the future hold?

It is currently used in the US, Canada, Australia and France to help protect the most at-risk gay men.

NHS England had argued that because PrEP was preventative it was not its responsibility.

In May, it said it had legal advice that said it did not have the "legal power to commission Prep" and that under 2013 regulations "local authorities are the responsible commissioner for HIV prevention services".

NHS England has also warned that if it prioritised PrEP, there was a risk of a legal challenge from people wanting similar access to other preventative treatments.

But the National Aids Trust (NAT) said local authorities did not have sole responsibility for HIV prevention in England.

The NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have not yet made a decision on Prep.

For the full story, visit www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36946000

For more informtation about PrEP, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/PrEP