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WHO suggestion for gay men to take anti-HIV drug sparks outrage

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- What happens when a drug developed for HIV treatment is all of a sudden a tool for HIV prevention?

The drug is called Truvada, and Damon Jacobs has been taking it for three years.

The Brooklyn resident says he made the decision to proactively take the pill – on a daily basis – after consulting with the staff at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

“Right in would have to depend on someone else to use the condom correctly, and make sure they put it on correctly, and make sure it didn’t break,” said Jacobs.

“The ideal candidate for Truvada are people, for men who have sex with men who are infected. Men who have sex with men who are at risk for infection, and anyone who feels they are at risk for infection,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie.

Governor Cuomo believes in Truvada’s potential so much that he made it part of a major public health initiative.

The goal – to drastically reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases over the next several years.

But Michael Weinstein of the California based AIDS Healthcare Foundation believes Governor Cuomo is sending a message that could put gay men at risk of greater exposure to HIV, and a host of other STDs.

“I think governor Cuomo’s advice is ill-advised. We know with absolute certainty that it give you no protection against gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and other conditions,” said Weinstein.

Weinstein’s point: condoms are still the best weapon against a broader range of STDs – including HIV/AIDS.

But Damon Jacobs – who says he hasn’t missed a dose of Truvada in three years – says the drug address the often condomless reality of gay sex in 2014.

“One thing that in think we forget to talk about in these conversations about sex is pleasure. Gay men don’t’ use condoms because of pleasure. Straight people don’t use condoms because of pleasure. But if there’s a way that we can enjoy sexual connection and intimacy, and remove HIV as a risk – why not talk about that?” said Jacobs.

6 comments

  • Steven Wine

    So you take Truvada to keep from getting HIV and use a condom to keep from getting all those other STD’s… AND as extra protection from HIV.

    • Robert Brandon Sandor

      Steve, are you saying that those who are ALREADY HIV-negative (without Truvada) should take Truvada DAILY, so they can be HIV-negative? Not very medically smart. Safe Sex Serosorting (having safe sex with your own HIV status) is 100% effecting, 100% free and has been successful since the mid 1990’s. http://www.HIV-UB2.net

  • qj201

    Truvada currently costs btw 800-1300 bucks a month (or $25-40 for a single pill if you like), BUT is approved for generic overseas. Gilead has “charity” programs for those without insurance or with unaffordable co-pays…my insurance co-pay would be $400 a month. And while the official line is “use condoms” as the interviewee made clear, Truvada is an excuse NOT to use condoms. They might as well add Acyclovir (for herpes) to the mix for better protection. Antibiotics too can be taken as PrEP, but no alcohol..so that won’t work for a lot of people.

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