Prescribing guidelines

People living with HIV are encouraged to start anti-HIV treatment as soon as they are ready to after diagnosis, as this has been shown to improve their health outcomes. Currently people living with HIV will be on treatment for life.

Recently, some medications used in HIV treatment have come 'off-patent,' meaning that they can be made by other pharmaceutical companies and the price is often significantly cheaper. These drugs work in exactly the same way and give the same benefits. NHS Scotland is therefore keen to prescribe the cheaper medications as this will save the NHS money.

HIV clinicians devised guidelines for prescribing medication to ensure that the most suitable anti-HIV treatment is prescribed for as low a cost as possible. During this process, HIV Scotland ensured that the voice of people living with HIV have been included in the development of this protocol. We facilitated people living with HIV from throughout Scotland to attend a specially organised meeting in Edinburgh in 2015 to initiate discussions on this subject.

The National Involvement Network (NIN) was established by HIV Scotland to bring together people living with HIV from across Scotland to reflect on the involvement of people living with HIV and to ensure that the voices of positive people are heard in policy making. The NIN meets regularly and includes representatives from regional HIV patient groups across Scotland. The NIN discussed the use of generics at its November 2016 meeting, and this discussion included the experiences of members who had already been switched to generic drugs. The NIN could recognised the financial benefits of switching to people onto generics for the NHS, but felt that side effects experienced must be incorporated into any decision about treatment, and that people should be able to talk to their consultant or pharmacist about any aspect of their treatment and care, including starting or changing medication. The NIN also recommended that treatment advocates are made available to offer advice and support to people living with HIV who is either starting or changing treatment. The information gathered at these meetings was presented to the HIV Clinical Leads Group as they developed new prescribing guidelines.

The Guidelines are currently being updated (October 2018)

Your health care team should discuss any changes to your treatment with you before they make them. If you have any questions or concerns about your medication, you should talk to your clinician, remember that you should be involved in decisions about any aspect of your treatment and care. If you have any concerns or questions be sure to speak to your healthcare team, or if you feel you are not getting the care you need please get in touch with HIV Scotland.