The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will stop funding access to an HIV prevention pill for Defence personnel.
A Defence spokesperson confirmed to SBS that, on review of its policies, it has now determined that provision of the drug Truvada - an HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis treatment (known as PrEP) - to ADF members will not be provided at Commonwealth expense.
"This decision was made following a review of arrangements in all states and territories and is in line with the access to HIV PrEP for all Australians citizens," the Defence spokesperson said.
"It should be noted there is currently no drug approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis in Australia."
In August this year, The Australian published a story claiming that the ADF was "secretly providing" some of its members with Truvada at a cost of approximately $10,000 a year per person, as it's not subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Truvada is now being increasingly used in countries like the US to help prevent the spread of HIV in high-risk groups, such as gay men.
The Defence LGBTI Information Service (DEFGLIS) posted a statement on its website on Monday detailing a recently released Defence health bulletin, which it said confirmed that access to PrEP will no longer be funded.
"Only a very small number of ADF members had been prescribed Truvada for HIV PrEP and those members affected by the change in policy were individually informed prior to the release of Health Bulletin," the Defence spokesperson said.
"In the interim, if those affected members wish to continue to take Truvada, they will be permitted to do so at their own expense."
Defence confirmed it will review its policies should the TGA approve a medication for the indication of PrEP.
ADF personnel will now have the same options for accessing the medication as the general public. This includes unsubsidised personal purchase within Australia of Truvada off-label, personal purchase and importation of a generic prescription overseas under the TGA's Personal Importation Scheme, or enrolment in a PrEP trial program - there are currently local trials in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
Recent research published in the Oxford Journals Clinical Infectious Diseases found no new cases of HIV with increasing use of PrEP in a clinical practice setting.