HIV preventive medication Truvada provides great step forward

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Approved by the FDA last summer, Truvada is an HIV preventive medication taken daily that has been reported to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by 99 percent. (Wikimedia Commons)

Approved by the FDA last summer, Truvada is an HIV preventive medication taken daily that has been reported to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by 99 percent. (Wikimedia Commons)

Come on guys, just use a condom. Or, maybe, just go on PreP now?

Approved by the FDA last summer, Truvada is an HIV preventive medication taken daily that has been reported to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by 99 percent, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Taking Truvada is often referred to as going on PreP, which is an acronym for the treatment called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. However, PreP, or Truvada, does not prevent the contraction of other STDs and STIs, such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. Is Truvada the answer to the continual issue of HIV and AIDS in the world?

How big is the issue of unprotected sex in the gay male world? In the CDC Morbidity and Mortality weekly report, The CDC estimated a 20 percent rise from 2005-2011 in unprotected anal sex among men. Many question the rise of unprotected sex, and the report stated that a reason for the increase was unknown. In a hypothesis, however, the CDC proposed that men were only having sex without the use of a condom with other men who were also negative. The rise in unprotected anal intercourse “might partially reflect the adoption of presumed risk-reduction strategies, such as engaging in unprotected sex only with partners perceived to have the same HIV status as one’s own,” said the CDC. However, this does not seem to fully answer the question. In a New York Times article, Alex Carballo-Diéguez, a researcher at the H.I.V Center of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, attributed the issue to the younger generation of gay men. “Young guys are less worried…in the moment of excitement, young gay men are going to do what they enjoy,” he said.

However, the real issue is whether gay men, or anyone for that matter, should go on PreP. The answer is yes —anything that will decrease the risk of contracting HIV and lower the number of new cases of HIV in the world should be welcomed with open arms. Yet, some, and in particular one organization, have not viewed Truvada as a solution to the continuing struggle against HIV and AIDS. Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has stated that PreP is “a public health disaster in the making.” He has also gone on to say that Truvada is a “party drug.” As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have all backed the drug, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, however, is waging a lonely war against PreP and Truvada.

All together, individuals should take Truvada and still use condoms to prevent the contraction of HIV and other STDs. But, to some, unprotected sex feels better and the risk seems to be well worth taking in the heat of the moment. If someone is going to have unprotected sex no matter what, should they not at least go on PreP to prevent HIV? Truvada alone is not going to stop HIV and AIDS, but it is a great step forward in the battle against HIV —if taken properly, of course.