Op-Ed: Why Are We Not Talking About PrEP?

Published: July 24, 2013

Michael Lucas comes out as HIV-negative, sexually active man on PReP

A month ago, I began taking a blue pill each day, called Truvada.
 
It’s a combination of two of the three antiretroviral medications that form the cocktail used to treat people with HIV. Last year, the FDA approved the prescription of Truvada for the preventing of HIV in people who are uninfected. The term for this is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
 
I’m HIV negative.
 
My choice to begin taking a highly-potent HIV drug wasn’t an easy one. And the decision to come out publicly as someone who’s on PrEP is not one that I take lightly.
 
But the more I learn about PrEP, the more shocked I’m becoming that gay men are not shouting from the rooftops about this potential game changer in the fight to prevent new HIV infections, which we’re losing badly.
 
I’m ready to shout about it.
 
Here’s what helped convince me: Dr. Robert Grant of UCSF, the researcher who led the multinational study on PrEP, was quoted at an AIDS conference as saying that “No one in iPrEx [the PrEP study] acquired HIV infection with a drug level that would have been expected with daily dosing.”
 
Was this really possible? Whether they used condoms or not, people who took Truvada, as prescribed, were protected from the virus? Before writing this column, I reached out to Dr. Grant to make sure I understood correctly.
 
While emphasizing that PrEP is still "very new," Dr. Grant confirms that "we have not seen anyone become infected that indicated daily use." He explained that the people in his study were among those at highest risk of becoming positive: gay men whose partners were already positive, and other men who frequently had unprotected sex.

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