Truvada Hub

How The Hobby Lobby Decision Could Undermine The Fight Against HIV/AIDS

The Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. could pose a significant threat to the fight for broader access to comprehensive treatment for HIV/AIDS. The ruling, handed down last week, held that closely held, for-profit corporations could be exempt from laws in direct conflict with their religious beliefs.

ImageHobby Lobby took specific issue with four forms of contraception the Affordable Care Act required it to provide its employees through its healthcare. While the bulk of the Hobby Lobby conversation has centered around religious objections to contraceptives, Media Matters points out that similar arguments could be made against Truvada, a drug just as socially polarizing.

A form of pre-exposure prophylaxis, (PrEP) Truvada has proven itself to be an overwhelmingly effective means of blocking HIV infection when taken properly. With a 99% efficacy rate, an endorsement from the CDC, and increasing deployment in public health initiatives, Truvada has the potential to be a key component in halting new HIV infection rates.

As Carlos Maza points out in Media Matters, however, the conversation around Truvada bears a striking resemblance to the debate about birth control. "[T]he Truvada debate recalls the way birth control was viewed in some quarters in the 1960s -- as an accessory to promiscuity."

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Seeks to End New York's AIDS Epidemic

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an ambitious plan to eradicate HIV in New York State by 2020 yesterday in a press release. Cuomo’s “Bending The Curve” initiative seeks to see a fall in new HIV infections to the point where the overall number of HIV infected individuals living in New York State is reduced for the first time. The Governor’s office is defining the end of the HIV epidemic as that point when “the total number of new HIV infections has fallen below the number of HIV-related deaths,” according to the press release.


"Thirty years ago, New York was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis -- today I am proud to announce that we are in a position to be the first state in the nation committed to ending this epidemic,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York State has reached an important milestone in controlling the AIDS epidemic.”

“Bending The Curve” focuses on three points of action in order to reach its goal: Identifying undiagnosed HIV infected persons, ensuring access to antiretroviral treatment, and providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for high-risk, HIV negative populations.

Cuomo’s plan would also streamline the process through which HIV tests can be requested during medical checkups and allow data gathered by the health department to be shared with healthcare providers minimizing the number of patients that go without care.

In addition to providing the necessary medical support to curtail the epidemic, Bending The Curve also seeks to provide critical quality of life support, an often overlooked aspect of HIV treatment. With “[a] 30% cap of the proportion of an HIV patient’s income that can be spent on rent,” the plan aims at eliminating situations in which people are forced to choose between health care and having a place to live.

“The goal is ambitious, but grounded in reality,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of the Treatment Action Group, an AIDS research and policy think tank. “[New York State has seen] an almost 40 percent decrease in new HIV diagnoses in the last decade, with fewer new infections each year, while nationally there has been no decline in the annual number of new HIV infections.

The plan also represents a major financial investment for the State itself. In addition to a projected prevention of 3,400 new infections, New York would also stand to save some $317 million in health care costs.

CDC Endorses Truvada in New Ad HIV Ad Campaign

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled a new ad campaign encouraging gay men to talk about HIV prevention with their partners. In the ads, the CDC endorses preventative medications like Truvada, saying:

Even before the foreplay, something oughta be on your mind. Talking. About testing, your status, and condoms. And new options like medicines that prevent and treat HIV. 

The CDC came out in favour of preventative HIV medications earlier this month, in what was seen as a vital moment in the debate over the "gay pill".

For recent coverage of Truvada on Towleroad, click here, here, and here.

Watch a couple of the ads, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "CDC Endorses Truvada in New Ad HIV Ad Campaign" »

'Why I Am A Truvada Whore'

Truvada Whore shirt

Freelance writer Christopher Glazek is a Truvada whore. It was not a decision he came to slowly or lightly, but after learning that the information he had initially been given was completely false and then being encouraged by a friend who was already on PrEP, he took the plunge. He now advocates for the drug as a preventative for the overwhelming majority of gay men and wrote a lengthy editorial for outlining his decision and how he came to it as well as examining the story of Adam Zeboski, creator of the #TruvadaWhore shirt. One of the primary reasons he advocates for the drug is that he views it's a drug that will be beneficial for everyone:

According to a CDC analysis released last year, only 15% of gay men use condoms consistently enough to derive substantial benefit from them. Truvada, then, is not a drug for a barebacking, pornographic minority, but for the overwhelming majority of people who do not consistently practice safe sex. 

Glazek also condemns the "puritanical ignorance" present in doctors, activists, journalists, and government officals which stymies the uptake of the drug, pointing out in particular ACT UP Paris derailing a study on Truvada as PrEP in Cambodia in 2004. Of course the issue of condoms makes an appearance, and Glazek feels Dr. Judy Auerbach, former vice president of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, addresses that issue succinctly with:

It’s clear that for many people, regardless of sexual orientation, the goal is to have condomless sex. Why don't we acknowledge that desire and not vilify it?

AIDS Healthcare Foundation: CDC Is 'Ill-Advised' To Promote PrEP


Hot on the heels of the medical specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administering guidelines for PrEP as an HIV preventive the AIDS Healthcare Foundation released a statement calling the CDC's promotion of pre-exposure prophylaxis as a method of HIV prevention "ill-advised." AHF President Michael Weinstein said on their website:

This is a position I fear the CDC will come to regret. By recommending widespread use of PrEP for HIV prevention despite research studies amply chronicling the inability to take it as directed, and showing a limited preventive effect at best, the CDC has abandoned a science-driven, public health approach to disease prevention—a move that will likely have catastrophic consequences in the fight against AIDS in this country.

He then brings up concerns about other STDs and insists that an uptake of PrEP will lead to a surge in condomless sex and therefore a rise in other STDs; however, the CDC made their decisions after analyzing the results of actual scientific studies. Weinstein's assertion about increased condomless sex, on the other hand, is pure speculation and actually runs counter to observations from the iPrEx study that noted no decrease in condom usage by participants on PrEP.

HIV Activist Rails Against PrEP, Plus Magazine Destroys His Arguments

Robert Brandon Sandor

Robert Brandon Sandor is an HIV activist, the owner of poz4poz and HIV-UB2, and is the creator of a series of regular serosorted play parties in NYC and other gay meccas. He recently wrote an opinion article for Gay San Diego wherein he slammed PrEP as a viable means for HIV prevention. The only problem is that his opinion piece appeared to be almost entirely devoid of factual information, so Todd Heywood at HIVPlus Magazine took the time to fisk Sandor's piece and dismantle his claims with cited facts.

For example, since PrEP supporters encourage people to use condoms and the pill together Sandor begs the question whether it's condoms or PrEP that accounted for lower HIV transmissions in the iPrEx study. Heywood countered with a statement from the study that stated, in part:

Given that high-risk sexual behaviors were still quite common, and given that condom use was the same in both the Truvada and placebo groups, it is highly likely that Truvada, and not just condoms, had a lot to do with how effectively the pill prevented new infections.

Sandor, who is HIV+ himself, also claimed that there is no need to take medications for prevention as "Safe Sex Serosorting" sex parties, and serosorting in general, already help to prevent the transmission of HIV. The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes found that "The protective effect for serosorting we found was not statistically significant." What's more, the CDC itself states in bold, authoritative letters, "CDC does not recommend serosorting as a safer sex practice," because

(1) too many MSM who have HIV do not know they are infected because they have not been tested for HIV recently, (2) men’s assumptions about the HIV status of their partners may be wrong, and (3) some HIV-positive men may not tell or may misrepresent their HIV status. All of these factors increase the risk that serosorting could lead to HIV infection.

Both articles are worth a read for a more comprehensive understanding of the issues and arguments around PrEP.


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