The U.S. Air Force has approved the use of a medication designed to prevent HIV infection for pilots and aircrew, overriding an older policy that prohibited its use.
The service in September officially approved the use of the pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment (PrEP) medication, commonly known as Truvada, which helps reduce the risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus, the Air Force Surgeon General’s office recently told Military.com. Last year, Military.com profiled pilots whose careers were negatively affected because PrEP had not been authorized for them.
But there’s a catch: Pilots and aircrew who wish to use PrEP must apply for a waiver, said Air Force Surgeon General spokeswoman Angelica Lopez.
“As of September 2018, airmen in a flying status were able to request a waiver to use Truvada,” Lopez said in an email statement. “The waiver, once approved, will help ensure providers are monitoring the safety of the medication and aircrew compliance.”
Airmen in flying status had tried to use waivers before, but their attempts were unsuccessful. Since 2012, when Truvada was approved for HIV PrEP by the Food and Drug Administration, no Air Force waivers had gone out to the rated community before the service sanctioned its use for the group, according to Col. John Oh, chief of flight and operational medicine branch.
The Air Force has since approved five waivers, while three are awaiting final determination, Lopez said.
Waivers for PrEP normally are not required for airmen in a non-flying status, said Oh, who previously served as chief of preventive medicine for the Air Force Medical Support Agency at Defense Health Headquarters.
Airmen on a flying status, however, were required have an aeromedical waiver in place to take Truvada, because it was not on the approved list of medications, Oh previously said.