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Saliva, PrEP, HIV stigma, chains, cops & protests. All in one spot. (you’re welcome) #HIV #AIDS

Saliva, PrEP, HIV stigma, chains, cops & protests.  All in one spot. (you’re welcome) #HIV #AIDS

It’s been a very diverse week in terms of HIV news.  At first PrEP is bad for you.  So, so, very bad:

Under pressure from Gilead Sciences and its AIDS advocate allies, the FDA antivirals advisory panel will soon consider accelerated approval for Gilead’s AIDS treatment drug Truvada for prevention of HIV infection. Opposition is widespread in the HIV advocacy and medical communities. AIDS advocates warn that such approval would be, at best, years premature. At worst, it would be an unwarranted, dangerous experiment with public health.

Clinical trial data supporting Truvada as prevention, or PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), is weak and inconclusive.  PrEP is a far less effective preventative than are condoms (44% versus 98+% in U.S. conditions). Doctors fear that PrEP will be used instead of condoms or that its use will discourage condom usage. Cynthia Davis, an HIV doctor at Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles, counsels that the drug must show 90 percent efficacy to be used safely in the U.S.

Davis worries that too many people will think that because they are taking the pill they will be safe. Dr. Kevin Fenton, CDC Chief of HIV-AIDS Prevention, has warned: “Some studies suggest that even a small increase in risk behavior due to a false sense of security about the pills’ effectiveness could actually increase HIV infections.”

Drug adherence among those already infected is difficult; it will be even more so among the uninfected. If the uninfected lack therapeutic levels of Truvada in their bloodstream before sex, they will remain unprotected. Patients will need careful monitoring and counseling to insure adherence; such handholding will be costly, inconvenient and in today’s economy unlikely.

To be very clear: the author of that one-sided ditty, James Driscoll, is a longtime advisor to AIDS Health Foundation – the group who spearheaded the pointless endeavor of No Magic Pills.


In the UK, where their AIDS groups actually remember they are there to serve the patients, they have concluded two studies that shows PrEP actually IS ready for prime time:

A cross-sectional survey of 842 HIV-negative gay and bisexual men, recruited at bars, clubs and saunas in London, suggested that half the respondents would be interested in taking PrEP.

Respondents were given information about pre-exposure prophylaxis and asked: “If PrEP were available, how likely is it that you would take a pill (oral dose) on a daily basis to prevent HIV infection?”.

Half said yes, with 16% saying they were likely to take PrEP and 34% saying they were very likely to. Men interested in PrEP were slightly more likely to be under the age of 35 (AOR adjusted odds ratio 1.58), have attended a sexual health clinic in the past year (AOR 1.59) and to have previously taken post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) (AOR 1.96). After statistical adjustment, various measures of risky sex were no longer associated with interest in PrEP.

In this survey, 17 men (2.1% of those answering the question) said that they had previously taken antiretroviral drugs to reduce their risk of HIV infection.

Secondly, clinicians at the Manchester Centre for Sexual Health surveyed HIV-negative men attending their service who reported unprotected receptive anal intercourse. Of the 121 men who responded, 36% said they would be “very willing” to take PrEP while only 14% said they would not take the treatment. Daily dosing was perceived as a better option by four fifths of respondents – just one fifth would prefer taking a dose before sexual activity.


The case of an HIV positive man’s saliva being branded as a “deadly weapon” is about to be heard on appeal:

While current law states that someone’s teeth or any other body part cannot be considered a “dangerous instrument” like a gun or a knife, Carpenter disagrees that such reasoning can be applied to someone’s saliva or any other bodily fluid.

In this case, Carpenter said, Plunkett knew the risks he was creating when he bit, spit, urinated and defecated during a struggle with Ilion police Investigator Paul Rose and Officer Matthew Darrow in the waiting room of a doctor’s office on Sept. 18, 2006.

Both Rose and Darrow had to undergo a series of antiviral medications to avoid contracting HIV, which left them feeling sick and nauseous for days, Carpenter said.

So even if HIV can’t be transmitted through saliva, Carpenter said the scene of the scuffle was still contaminated by Plunkett’s other bodily fluids.

No, saliva can’t transmit HIV, but to the court’s point Plunkett came up with the winning trifecta of possible ways to attempt transmission.  He should be in jail for being an idiot to fight with the cops, but the whole deadly weapon saliva bit has got to go.

HIV/AIDS advocacy champs ACTUP celebrated their 25th anniversary yesterday by taking over Wall Street for a little bit:

Nine AIDS activists were arrested Wednesday after they stretched a chain across Broadway at Wall St. and forced traffic to a halt.

The ACT-UP demonstrators managed to hook the chain to light posts under the noses of cops patrolling the key intersection.

“Hey, you can’t do that,” one officer said as a protester clicked the padlock shut and plopped himself down on Broadway.

Holding up signs that read “Tax Wall St., End Aids,” the chanting demonstrators then refused to move.

Minutes later, a police officer arrived with a bolt-cutter and snipped the chain while other cops picked up the protesters and placed them in police vans.

“Hey, these are people here,” one demonstrator yelled as cops stood him up.

“We know,” an officer replied.

The AIDS activists were taken to the nearby Seventh Precinct stationhouse for processing. Charges against them were pending.

ACT-UP wants the government to tax market trades by investment banks, hedge funds and other financial outfits to fund universal health care.

Before they blocked Broadway, the AIDS activists met up with Occupy Wall Street supporters at City Hall to rally for what they call a “Financial Speculative Tax.”

Note to every other direct action “advocacy” group who thinks they’re ACTUP.  You’re really not.

(thumb credit via the NY Daily News Link)

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