A member of the Military.com reporting staff has been honored with the American Legion’s Fourth Estate New Media Award for exposing a troubling military policy that prohibited Air Force pilots from using a drug that prevented HIV.
Oriana Pawlyk, Military.com’s air warfare reporter, received the award Wednesday during the veterans organization’s 101st National Convention in Indianapolis. Pawlyk first reported in June 2018 that Air Force pilots were not allowed to use the HIV-preventive drug Truvada, despite other services allowing their troops to take it.
Critics told Pawlyk the Air Force’s policy represented an overly conservative approach that borders on homophobia, since the medication is commonly used by gay, sexually active individuals. She profiled the plight of several pilots whose careers had been negatively affected by the Air Force’s policy.
Within weeks of Pawlyk’s reporting, the service reversed its policy, allowing pilots to take the pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment medication, commonly known as Truvada, which helps reduce the risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus.