President Of Largest HIV/AIDS Foundation In U.S. Stands By Labeling Truvada A "Party Drug"
A petition expressing outrage over the head of the largest HIV/AIDS foundation shaming the use of Truvada by HIV-negative gay men who wish to remain that way has done little to phase the person in question. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has defended his comments labeling Truvada a "party drug" in an interview published by BuzzFeed on Friday.
The shaky ground Weinstein's standing on first shattered in early April. "If something comes along that's better than condoms, I'm all for it, but Truvada is not that," he said a few weeks ago. "Let's be honest: It's a party drug."
An authority figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS reducing a preventative medication that has a success rate of more than 90 percent keeping sexually active gay men HIV-negative didn't go over so well, as one might imagine. Andrew Sullivan articulately slammed everything wrong with Weinstein's statements, and a petition calling for his resignation from AHF soon followed.
None of the blowback has budged Weinstein, according to his latest remarks.
“I’ve had debates on this subject, but these people are jumping to character assassination and I’m not going to respond to it,” he tells BuzzFeed. “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,” Weinstein added. “They’re all associated with bareback porn, which kind of makes my point that it’s a party drug.”
When asked why Weinstein is quick to discount a medication that prevents HIV infection, he explains it's because he doesn't trust gay men to be responsible.
“The primary issue with Truvada is that in the perfect world if people took it every day they would be protected, but that is not the case,” he said. “I read over and over again articles talking about how it’s more than 90% effective and they don’t even mention the adherence issue. PrEP is just not 90%-plus effective in the real world. It’s just not ready for prime time as a public health strategy.”
So, not only is Weinstein calling sexually active HIV-neg gay men whores, he's calling them irresponsible whores.
Can gay men be relied upon to take a pill once a day? Please. Why would they be regarded as less capable of protecting themselves than millions of women? And the cost we have already incurred by not aggressively promoting this drug as a preventative is huge. I wrote about this option as far back as 2006, when it first appeared on the horizon. 400,000 people have been infected since then. Back in 2010, in a thread called “A Massive HIV Breakthrough“, I noted that the trials concluded that the pill was more than 90 percent effective. Truvada was subsequently approved by the FDA in 2012 and continued to have high rates of success in clinical trials.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, an HIV specialist and board member at NYC's Gay Mens Health Crisis, is worried about the effect of Weinstein's comments.
“I don’t see it as a party drug at all," Daskalakis said. “The guys I’m giving Truvada to and some women, have a lot of good reasons to take it. If being in a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV-positive is a party, then Truvada is a party drug.”