A planned roll-out of the HIV prevention drug PrEP on the National Health Service (NHS) in England has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK's publicly-funded healthcare system was expected to make the drug available in England starting in April.

PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, effectively blocks the transmission of HIV in more than 99 percent of cases when administered properly.

The drug is currently available on the NHS in Scotland and on the NHS in England through limited-capacity trials.

Speaking with iNews, Debbie Laycock from Terrence Higgins, an HIV advocacy organization, said that her group would continue to press the government to begin distribution of PrEP.

“The impact of COVID has been even greater than we knew then but we will hold the government to account on its commitments because PrEP is such an important HIV prevention tool,” Laycock said.

"We will continue to work to ensure that roll-out happens as a matter of urgency and push for a firm timeline from the government on when uncapped access to PrEP will be available across England.”

"No one can be left behind when it comes to HIV prevention as progress that isn’t felt by everyone isn’t true progress,” she added.

Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer, has two PrEP drugs, Truvada and Descovy, the latter of which was approved for use in the United States last year.