Opinion: Why PrEP is a failure
By Robert Brandon Sandor
Since the mid-1990s and to this day, the HIV-negative community has stopped the spread of HIV simply by physically breaking the cycle of new HIV transmissions. During all that time, no HIV agency, organization, expert, professional or researcher has given the HIV-negative community credit for this monumental social and sexual behavioral change.
There has not been any attempt to reach out to our HIV-negative gay youth and create a message of congratulations for a job well done. In fact, the only message coming from the HIV “experts” targeting our HIV-negative gay youth is: Get medicated on PrEP and be happy.
(Editor’s Note: PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a new HIV prevention method that encourages high-risk, HIV-negative people to take a daily pill to reduce their risk.)
PrEP is a total failure and a worthless effort to cash in on an untapped cash cow — our HIV-negative gay youth. I will not tolerate this.
• PrEP failed because it is not practical.
Years of published articles and scientific reports stating that PrEP failed to gain national support are based on factual evidence; PrEP is simply not practical. One such article published in “The New Yorker” (See “Truvada and PrEP: Why is no one on the first treatment to prevent HIV?” by Christopher Glazek, Oct. 2013) stated: “The medical community’s reluctance to prescribe Truvada — and patients’ reluctance to request it — also stems from a bitter fight over the treatment. Critics have questioned PrEP’s safety, efficacy, and cost, and have accused the government of colluding with the drug manufacturer at the expense of public health.” (Editor’s Note: For a link to the NY article see gay-sd.com).
Also, the supporters of PrEP state that the HIV-negative community is required to take PrEP daily for life, and wear condoms 100 percent of the time. Which begs one to ask the question: Is it the condom keeping you HIV-negative or PrEP?
• PrEP failed because it is harmful.
PrEP is Truvada and according to its own website, Truvada.com, there are serious side effects: “Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Serious liver problems. Your liver may become large and tender, and you may develop fat in your liver. You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking Truvada for a long time. Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and take Truvada, your hepatitis may become worse if you stop taking Truvada.”
• PrEP failed because there is no need to take expensive medications with harmful side effects for something HIV-negative gay youth are doing now for free.
One example is the national popularity of the disease and drug free revolution. This unique, community-driven, harm-reduction, HIV prevention strategy has been accepted since it was first introduced to the public back in the mid-1990s, with the formation of the nation’s first HIV-negative safe-sex environment, called “Boy Toys – NY”; a private sex party exclusively for HIV-negative gay young men, popularly known as “HIV-UB2 / Safe Sex Serosorting.”
Choosing to remain HIV-negative and drug free (D&D Free) is a freedom of choice issue and a legal right supported by the U.S. government. If this is not true, then why are HIV-negative gay youth required to become HIV+ and hooked on “meth”?
•PrEP failed because it does not address the root element to achieve successful HIV prevention.
Successful HIV prevention will be achieved when the HIV agencies, organizations, “experts” and “professionals” understand the core issue of HIV prevention and create a message focused for the target audience. PrEP failed because it does not focus on your desire and motivation to remain HIV-negative.
In my booklet, “The Essential Sex Venue Etiquette And Resource Guide,” published in April of last year, I explain this phenomenon further.
We consciously work to achieve consistency between our perceptions of self, our own behavior and feedback from the world around us. There is a way to change our perception of ourselves and our behavior if we choose to be consciously involved in learning, and have a desire to improve our actions. We have to be willing to go outside our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to see the situation differently.
The time has come to keep the promise and take HIV prevention seriously. HIV prevention messages in the U.S. must change and adapt to the needs of today’s gay and bisexual youth, otherwise the messages will become obsolete and worthless.
• PrEP failed because it ignored almost 20 years of progress achieved by the HIV-negative community, and their desire to remain D&D Free by having safe sex with their own HIV status.
— Robert Brandon Sandor is a New York City-based Air Force veteran, HIV activist, and author. He is founder of POZ4POZ.com and HIV-UB2.net, and author of “The Essential Sex Venue Etiquette And Resource Guide,” Café Press, April 2013. He has been HIV+ since 1983. You can follow Sandor on Twitter at @SayNO2HIV or YouTube “Serious HIV Prevention.”
— For more information on PrEP, visit cdc.gov/hiv/prevention/research/prep.
SDSU President Elliot Hirshman is to be commended for making the Center a major priority [See “A Solid Foundation,” Vol. 5 Issue 7]. He’s only been president for less than two years and already he’s opened a Center and announced the first LGBT Studies major.
Congratulations to Doug Case for making this one of his life’s missions. Please, everyone consider supporting the Center and SDSU’s LGBT students.
—Robert DeKoven via gay-sd.com
The last issue of Gay San Diego dated April 4, 2014 was identified as Volume 5, Issue 6. However, it should have been identified as Volume 5, Issue 7. We regret the error.