AIDS Healthcare finally backs off vilifying PrEP and those who take it #HIV #AIDS #PrEP
AIDS Healthcare, run by the man every true AIDS activist loves to hate – Michael Weinstein has finally backed off their demonizing Truvada, PrEP and those who take it. No more will we have to suffer through Weinstein’s insane comments calling Truvada a party drug (pssst: he did the same thing with Viagra).
The AHF has very clearly and articulately spelled out their position on PrEP and guess what? It’s pretty well worded, but at this stage of the game I need to see more than just a pretty ad. I need them to put the actions behind the words as well. Below is the text they’re sharing, and you’ll see my points I have contention with bolded and italicized:
Now the new ad campaign appears to be a softening of AHF and Weinstein’s views on PrEP, stating in the ads, “A sometimes emotional debate over the proper use of Truvada for prevention of HIV has now been raging for the last several years.”
“Based on the current available scientific data, AIDS Healthcare Foundation offers the following principles for the administration of PrEP for the community’s consideration,” it reads. The 11 principles in the ad include the following:
1. Those who have not and will not use condoms and are having multiple sexual partners are the best candidates for PrEP.
2. Those who use condoms with every partner do not require PrEP. (Wrong: condoms break, or they can actually still be put on incorrectly and cause them to break)
3. Every person who is going to take PrEP should be tested beforehand and retested quarterly for HIV and other STDs.
4. The decision to begin PrEP should be thoroughly discussed with one’s medical provider-including adherence, which should be monitored closely-and patients should be counseled to take the drug daily.
5. Persons who start PrEP and then discontinue its usage should be counseled to use condoms.
6. The goal should be to get every HIV + patient’s virus to undetectable levels that would render them non-infectious (in which case their partner does not require PrEP). (Wrong: a VR can get to undetectable, but what’s to say that it’s going to stay there?)
7. Reducing the total number of sexual partners you have will decrease your risk of contracting HIV and other STDs. (Half wrong: it only takes one swing at the ball to bat a home run in this department)
8. In general, medical providers should engage in frank conversations about sexual risks with patients.
9. More study is needed, particularly among marginalized populations such as women, youth, African-Americans, and Latinos about the likelihood of adherence to PrEP. (They just can’t give this point up. Study after study shows that most participants who are on PrEP are taking it faithfully)
10. In the future, an implant that delivers a steady level of medication or an injection that maintains blood levels for months will be preferable to daily dosing.
11. Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Truvada, should not have undue influence over decisions made by the medical community or at-risk populations about the use of PrEP. (Who says they do now, other than AHF?)
While the principles made by AHF are new for them, they’re not for anyone who has been working in PrEP and HIV prevention, according to Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of the global HIV advocacy organization AVAC, who said PrEP has had support among advocates since the cascade of scientific evidence of PrEP’s effectiveness began in 2010.