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PrEP treatment options for Defence personnel clarifed

2015 11 02 prep

Defence has issued a new health bulletin clarifying that HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment will be facilitated for personnel at high risk of contracting HIV but it won't be funded.

Recently released Health Bulletin No 02/2015 details that Defence will facilitate the management of ADF members who are at high risk of HIV infection who may benefit from HIV PrEP, but stops short of providing the preventative medication to personnel.

PrEP is a preventative medication for people at substantial risk of contracting HIV. When taken daily, PrEP can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection if a person is exposed.

Defence personnel assessed to be at risk under the Australian National PrEP Guidelines may be prescribed PrEP after the treating physician balances the potential harms and benefits for the individual.

If PrEP is prescribed, Defence personnel will have the same options for accessing the medication as the general public, which include:
- Unsubsidised personal purchase within Australia of Truvada off-label
- Personal purchase and importation of a generic prescription overseas under the TGA Personal Importation Scheme
- Enrolment in a PrEP demonstration or trial program such as those established in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

The health bulletin provides relevant advice to medical staff about circumstances which should be considered before prescribing PrEP as a preventative treatment, and guidance on deployment considerations for members who elect to undergo commence the treatment.

Practitioners are guided to encourage the member to continue a range of sensible preventative measures including safe sex practices while undergoing PrEP treatment.

Defence personnel who believe they are at a high risk of contracting HIV are encouraged speak with their local health centre about their concerns and to explore the range of preventative measures and practices.

The bulletin states it will be updated in the event that the TGA licences tenovir/emtricitabine (or Truvada) for HIV PrEP.

Over the next few months, DEFGLIS will undertake consultation with leading HIV/AIDS organisations and with members about their needs.

About the Author
Author: Vince Chong
Vince is the President of DEFGLIS. He is a project manager and an electronics engineer.
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