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PrEP financial assistance available for Defence personnel

2015 11 02 prep

Australian Defence Force Personnel may be eligible for financial assistance for PrEP, which was approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration last week.

The Theraputic Goods Administration approval for the use of Truvada for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP means that the HIV prevention medication is now available for sale in Australia and is expected to lower the rate of HIV transmission amongst the population.

Mr Phil Joffe, the Chairperson of PrEPaccessNow said that one of the driving forces behind the formation of the organisation was Australian Defence Force members and the belief that PrEP should be available to all Australians.

“When we heard that Australian Defence Force members were no longer getting access to PrEP - it was clear to us that in line with our Assistance Programme we should be helping those who keep us safe and risk their lives for our country,” said Joffe.

Australian Defence Force are posted all around Australia and overseas, which means that not all personnel are able to participate in free clinical trials that are being conducted in three states.

“For this reason PrEPaccessNOW, believes it is important to be able to offer ongoing support for our service men and women to be able to access this groundbreaking HIV prevention strategy,” said Joffe.

The PrEPaccessNOW website provides instructions for how personnel may seek assistance a generic brand of Truvada called Ricovir-EM from the Green Cross Pharmacy, which is listed on the Queensland AIDS Council website for accessing PrEP. (See note below)

Personnel with a prescription from Defence can apply for assistance on the PrEPaccessNOW website. When applying, personnel should clearly indicate that they are active duty full-time members of the Australian Defence Force.

As assistance is provided three months at a time, personnel should ensure that they have suitable arrangements for treatment the event that offer of assistance is withdrawn.

PrEP preventative treatment is currently undergoing large-scale trials in Australia, and has completed large-scale trials in the USA, which indicates that daily use can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission in combination with other preventative measures such as the use of condoms.

The Australian Defence Force issued Health Bulletin 02/2015 clarifying how PrEP treatment will be facilitated for ADF personnel.

For personnel assessed to be in a high risk category according to the Australian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Defence Force will facilitate the provision of a prescription for PrEP and provide medical management and oversight for treatment.

The Health Bulletin is currently being reviewed following approval of Truvada for PrEP treatment by the Theraputic Goods Administration.

PrEP is not currently available via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which means that member’s may purchase Truvada at the full market rate, or import a generic version of the medication via Australia’s Personal Importation Scheme for Medicines.

The cost for generic Truvada is around $160 - $300 AUD per quarter.

More information: PrEPaccessNow - application for assistance

Note: For a medication to be registered and sold in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration requirements provide the patient with a high level of confidence that the medication is appropriate for the condition (approved indications) and that it has been manufactured to an acceptable standard (it contains the active ingredients as stated). As imported medications are not subject to these quality and safety requirements, personnel should seek expert advice about potential risks when making a decision to import and use medication from overseas.

Advice in this article is general in nature and does not take into account a person’s personal or medical circumstances, and does not apply to any specific medication. DEFGLIS Defence LGBTI Information Service Inc. does not recommend or endorse any specific medication or treatment. Please consult a medical professional or your local AIDS council for more information.

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