AHF President Michael Weinstein Doubles Down on Truvada ‘Party Drug’ Claims

Weinstein

Last week we reported on calls for Michael Weinsten’s resignation amid furor over the AIDS Healthcare Foundation President’s criticism of HIV PReP drug Truvada.

Weinstein defended his remarks in an interview late last week with Buzzfeed:

“I’ve had debates on this subject, but these people are jumping to character assassination and I’m not going to respond to it,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest HIV/AIDS medical care provider in the U.S. “My record and the record of AHF speaks for itself.”

“In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about this, they’ve all been associated with bareback porn,” he said. “They’re all associated with bareback porn, which kind of makes my point that it’s a party drug.”

Weinstein later elaborated on his opposition to the drug:

Weinstein also said numbers from Gilead Sciences (the maker of Truvada) show fewer than 1,800 people have been prescribed Truvada for prevention, saying, “More importantly, the physicians who treat gay men aren’t recommending it, otherwise more and more people would be on it. It’s been on the market for two years and it really hasn’t caught on.” With that said, Weinstein concedes “there’s no problem” if someone’s doctor thinks Truvada is appropriate for them, but said, “I still think that it’s Russian Roulette because of the adherence problem.”

Advocates are calling his remarks judgmental and  “a conversation stopper” when real dialogue about the drug’s efficacy is needed.

Comments

  1. Joel says

    “In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about this, they’ve all been associated with bareback porn,”

    I would like to see that substantiated.

  2. Joel says

    “In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about this, they’ve all been associated with bareback porn,”

    I would like to see that substantiated.

  3. Joel says

    “In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about this, they’ve all been associated with bareback porn,”

    I would like to see that substantiated.

  4. Joel says

    “In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about this, they’ve all been associated with bareback porn,”

    I would like to see that substantiated.

  5. Joel says

    “In the last few days in terms of the people who have been yelling the loudest about this, they’ve all been associated with bareback porn,”

    I would like to see that substantiated.

  6. Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance says

    I would like to see some discussion about the cost of this drug and whether or not it will be covered by insurance.

  7. Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance says

    I would like to see some discussion about the cost of this drug and whether or not it will be covered by insurance.

  8. Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance says

    I would like to see some discussion about the cost of this drug and whether or not it will be covered by insurance.

  9. anon says

    Does taking this drug eliminate the need to use condoms? Does taking this drug protect you from any other STD than HIV? No, it doesn’t do either of these!!!

    So, what’s the point?

  10. Robert M. says

    Michael Weinstein is widely loathed amongst gay advocates because of his past behavior including trying to steal the Aids Walk from APLA, his push for condom usage in porn through legislative efforts rather than advocacy (force don’t urge), the many legal suits he’s initiated against other Aids Organizations costing them money and resources without concern to their clients. He has cash flow problems. I know personally of the fact that AHF clients receiving home help have had that cut off for AHF failing to pay its bills and on and on…

  11. Robert M. says

    Michael Weinstein is widely loathed amongst gay advocates because of his past behavior including trying to steal the Aids Walk from APLA, his push for condom usage in porn through legislative efforts rather than advocacy (force don’t urge), the many legal suits he’s initiated against other Aids Organizations costing them money and resources without concern to their clients. He has cash flow problems. I know personally of the fact that AHF clients receiving home help have had that cut off for AHF failing to pay its bills and on and on…

  12. Robert M. says

    Michael Weinstein is widely loathed amongst gay advocates because of his past behavior including trying to steal the Aids Walk from APLA, his push for condom usage in porn through legislative efforts rather than advocacy (force don’t urge), the many legal suits he’s initiated against other Aids Organizations costing them money and resources without concern to their clients. He has cash flow problems. I know personally of the fact that AHF clients receiving home help have had that cut off for AHF failing to pay its bills and on and on…

  13. anon says

    Does taking this drug eliminate the need to use condoms? Does taking this drug protect you from any other STD than HIV? No, it doesn’t do either of these!!!

    So, what’s the point?

  14. ToThePoint says

    Can his animus towards gay men’s use of this drug impede the proper research and development of AIDS drugs within this organization? His statements should give cause for investigation by any parties as necessary that may see a reason for concern.

  15. Douglas says

    There’s a reason why the launch of Truvada as PrEp has been the flop that it has, and that’s because a great many of us agree with Michael Weinstein and share his concerns about it. Be it specifically a “party drug” or not, Weinstein is absolutely right to question the prudency of relying on a drug that has been shown in multiple studies to present significant adherence problems. He’s absolutely right to regard Truvada as PrEP as a form of Russian roulette.

    It’s also little wonder why those with a personal financial interest in bareback porn–the despicable Michael Lucas, in particular–would choose to seize any opportunity to pillory someone who has campaigned for the use of condoms in porn.

  16. Douglas says

    There’s a reason why the launch of Truvada as PrEp has been the flop that it has, and that’s because a great many of us agree with Michael Weinstein and share his concerns about it. Be it specifically a “party drug” or not, Weinstein is absolutely right to question the prudency of relying on a drug that has been shown in multiple studies to present significant adherence problems. He’s absolutely right to regard Truvada as PrEP as a form of Russian roulette.

    It’s also little wonder why those with a personal financial interest in bareback porn–the despicable Michael Lucas, in particular–would choose to seize any opportunity to pillory someone who has campaigned for the use of condoms in porn.

  17. Douglas says

    There’s a reason why the launch of Truvada as PrEp has been the flop that it has, and that’s because a great many of us agree with Michael Weinstein and share his concerns about it. Be it specifically a “party drug” or not, Weinstein is absolutely right to question the prudency of relying on a drug that has been shown in multiple studies to present significant adherence problems. He’s absolutely right to regard Truvada as PrEP as a form of Russian roulette.

    It’s also little wonder why those with a personal financial interest in bareback porn–the despicable Michael Lucas, in particular–would choose to seize any opportunity to pillory someone who has campaigned for the use of condoms in porn.

  18. Douglas says

    There’s a reason why the launch of Truvada as PrEp has been the flop that it has, and that’s because a great many of us agree with Michael Weinstein and share his concerns about it. Be it specifically a “party drug” or not, Weinstein is absolutely right to question the prudency of relying on a drug that has been shown in multiple studies to present significant adherence problems. He’s absolutely right to regard Truvada as PrEP as a form of Russian roulette.

    It’s also little wonder why those with a personal financial interest in bareback porn–the despicable Michael Lucas, in particular–would choose to seize any opportunity to pillory someone who has campaigned for the use of condoms in porn.

  19. Douglas says

    There’s a reason why the launch of Truvada as PrEp has been the flop that it has, and that’s because a great many of us agree with Michael Weinstein and share his concerns about it. Be it specifically a “party drug” or not, Weinstein is absolutely right to question the prudency of relying on a drug that has been shown in multiple studies to present significant adherence problems. He’s absolutely right to regard Truvada as PrEP as a form of Russian roulette.

    It’s also little wonder why those with a personal financial interest in bareback porn–the despicable Michael Lucas, in particular–would choose to seize any opportunity to pillory someone who has campaigned for the use of condoms in porn.

  20. Qj201 says

    – Prep when taken once daily as directed is >90% effective

    – Michael Lucas, who recently moved into BB porn, has been shooting his mouth off about Prep

    – There has been a noted increase in guys on hookup sites & apps mentioning being on Prep and explicitly wanting BB.

    – So Weinstein, whatever his history, etc., still has a point

  21. Jim Hopkins says

    Weinstein’s argument reminds of those people who oppose sex education in schools because, they say, it will just lead to young people having more sex than they would otherwise. Their solution: ban sex ed entirely in the misguided belief that will result in less sexual activity and fewer unwanted pregnancies.

    Weinstein seems to think that if you banned use of Truvada, people would revert back to using condoms. This ignores the reality that many people taking Truvada had stopped using condoms already.

    BTW: I write as one of the 2,500 volunteers in the drug trial that led to the FDA’s approving Truvada for PREP.

  22. Felix says

    @Jim Hopkins
    Did I miss something? Who’s requesting the banning of Truvada?

    AIDS is on its 30th birthday with new infections every year. The gay community has obviously failed on this and yet we want more unprotected sex and more drugs. Fine, but don’t get all riled when someone calls things by their name

  23. Darren says

    Here’s a crazy thought: Instead of living a life with an endless assembly line of sex partners whom don’t know you and who don’t care about you, and instead of desperately trying to find technical gimmicks and pharmaceutical workarounds to make such a life less hazardous – why not consider living like a full human being? You know, with actual intimate relationships characterized by depth, stability and – what’s it called – oh, yes love. Give it a try. It seems to work for almost every human being on Earth, in contrast to a life of long-term hookups, which overwhelmingly leads to morbidity and early mortality.

  24. Bill says

    @Darren: There’s a fair bit of variation between individuals and behavior changes over time so that many who want the hookup du jour at the age of 20 might by in a long-term stable relationship by the time he is 30. The idea behind PReP is to prevent people from catching a currently incurable disease before they settle down.

    Instead of moralizing, you might want to ask what strategy for improving people’s health actually works. We have thousands of years of preaching against the “sins of the flesh” characterized by a track record that is an abject failure. That’s a good reason to encourage the use of condoms and maybe a preventive treatment in cases where that makes sense. The use of condoms and the use of Truveda are not mutually exclusive choices. You can do both. It is simply a question of effectiveness (the only reasonable thing to discuss).

  25. Buster says

    I say the following as a married, monogamous, HIV negative gay man.

    Whether you like it or not –whether you think it’s stupid or evil or immoral or not, there are many gay men who are going to have frequent sex with multiple partners and, in some cases, bareback sex. All without condoms, which is too bad, but it’s a fact.

    If some of those people also choose to use Truvada then IT WILL REDUCE THE SPREAD OF HIV. That is ALL that matters.

    All of your judgmental calls for “monogamy” or “condom use” or “responsibility” aren’t going to change these facts. And those of you who get all excited crying that “Truvada doesn’t protect against other STDs” maybe aren’t old enough to remember life pre-HIV when virtually no gay men thought about using a condom because all those other STDs are either curable or not life-threatening.

    I’m sorry, but I think anyone who can’t see the benefit to having Truvada in the mix of things we are using to reduce HIV transmission is an idiot. It isn’t ideal but it obviously is another tool that helps.

    Also, if it weren’t so upsetting it would be funny that Weinstein is accusing people of “character assassination,” when last week HE was accusing people who are trying to be more responsible by using the FDA-approved, MD-prescribed Truvada as being “party drug” users. I don’t know what games he’s playing, but I think he’s an appalling person to be heading an AIDS organization.

  26. Bellah says

    PRep hurts this man’s bottom line. He needs the rate of new infection to continue, so that he can continue to put doctors in private practice and small mom & pop pharmacies out of business. He wants it all

  27. says

    TOTHEPOINT asked if Mr. Weinstein’s opinion could impede the research & development of AIDS drugs within his organization. The answer to is no because his organization(AHF) doesn’t do any research & development of meds. They’re service-providers. Research & development must continue because the FDA only approved Truvada-as-PrEP on a provisional basis on the condition that more research be conducted. Right now there is a study on why people continue to sero-convert to HIV+ while on PrEP. If anyone reading this is on PrEP you might want to enroll in this Clinical Trial so we can get better answers: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01902472