When it comes to the little blue pill, gay men are in a house divided. Amid controversy over using HIV drug Truvada as an HIV preventative, AID Atlanta comes out in favor of it and adds the pills to its arsenal.
The local HIV services organization joins a long list of AIDS United Public Policy Committee partners in a public letter that comes out against a dangerous misinformation campaign by the California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which still backs a condoms-only prevention approach.
AHF calls using Truvada as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) “ineffective” in a new print media campaign, and AID Atlanta and its brethren aren’t having it. If taken as directed, PrEP works, they say in the letter.
“The studies are clear,” said Dr. Jose Rodriguez-Diaz, CEO of AID Atlanta. “PrEP has been proven highly effective in the prevention of HIV. It is time to move on from debate and use this tool to help protect those in our community that are at high risk.”
While the body of science showing PrEP to be effective has grown, it remains unknown and underutilized by people most likely to benefit from it. A September 2014 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 80% of gay and bisexual men knew “only a little” or “nothing at all” about this important HIV prevention tool. People most at risk for HIV infection need to have full and accurate information to make an informed decision about PrEP, as well as support for access to and adherence to the daily medication.
“We at AID Atlanta support wide access to PrEP,” said Dr. Diaz. “It is our job to share with those that are at high risk effective options for HIV prevention. By having barriers to access with PrEP, we are losing a proven effective tool in fight against HIV in our own community.”
Supporting the policy and its #PrEPworks hashtag (below), AID Atlanta puts its programs where its mouth is. The agency will provide PrEP to its clients “within the next few months,” Diaz says in the letter.
So is PrEP right for you? This website might help you answer that question. In a war of butt sex and self-proclaimed “Truvada Whores” against those who say there are no magic pills, we say that properly used it’s probably an effective tool in a nation where HIV is stabilizing – unless you’re gay. After all, only three in 10 gay poz men have the virus in check, and half of all gay and bisexual men under 35 aren’t even getting tested.