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UK court says state health system can fund preventative HIV drug

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - A high court judge ruled on Tuesday that an HIV pill to prevent infection could be funded by the state health service in England, in a victory for AIDS campaigners who have been calling for its wider use.

So-called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV, using Gilead Sciences' medicine Truvada, can cut the risk of getting the virus during sex by more than 90 percent, according to clinical studies.

But NHS (National Health Service) England had argued it was not in a position to fund the medicine because PrEP was a preventative service and therefore the responsibility of local authorities.

The high court in London, however, ruled there was nothing to stop NHS England paying for the drug.

The National AIDS Trust had brought the legal case, arguing that PrEP was cost-effective and urgently needed in the UK, where more than 4,000 people acquire HIV annually.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)