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What's Your Instinct: AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Calls Truvada A "Party Drug"

The contentious debate over the preventative use of Truvada by HIV-negative gay men who wish to refrain from becoming infected with HIV took on a drastic new tone recently. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has blasted the preventative use of Truvada and labeled it a “party drug.”

"If something comes along that's better than condoms, I'm all for it, but Truvada is not that," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Let's be honest: It's a party drug."

Yes, the same Truvada that—if taken accordingly—has been proven to prevent HIV-infection in sexually-active gay men by 90 percent or more.

"I find some of that opposition irresponsible," said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, medical director of the ambulatory HIV program at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. “If some men don't want to use condoms, they won't. You have to deal with it by acknowledging that sometimes unprotected sex happens, and you can still prevent HIV infections."

Unfortunately, the growing stigma attached to preventing HIV-infection with Truvada has caused many sexually-active gay men pause.

"There's some interesting social pushback," Dr. Daskalakis added. "I've spoken to some of my patients who'd totally be candidates but are hesitant to do it. They don't want to be labeled as people on the drug because there's a social stigma."

Andrew Sullivan is also eloquently flabbergasted on leading HIV/AIDS activists’ opposition to Truvada.

He writes:

I have to say I’m aghast by that attempt to stigmatize – yes, stigmatize – a medication that could prevent countless men from being infected with HIV. Think about it: if it were 1990 and the news emerged that – just by taking one pill a day – you could avoid ever getting infected with HIV, do you think there would be any debate at all? There would be lines around the block for it, huge publicity campaigns to get the amazing news out, celebrations in the streets, and huge relief for anyone not infected with the virus. Fast forward a quarter century, and those taking this medication are actually demonized as “Truvada Whores“.

Whore? Why are some now channeling Rush Limbaugh’s sex-phobia? I mean: are women who are on the contraceptive pill “whores” as well? All they’re doing is protecting themselves from the consequences of sex in terms of pregnancy. And all gay men on Truvada are doing is protecting themselves from HIV. Why on earth would we want to prevent or marginalize that?

What say you, Instincters? Is the president of one of the country’s largest HIV/AIDS organizations right in labeling Truvada a “party drug” or is he off-base?

(Via USA Today)

 

Comments

You gay people are unbelievable.This drug has been proven to be 96% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV yet all you can think about is social stigma and being called Truvada whores.You're all Pathetic.AIDS has killed over 30 million people since it was discovered in the mid 80's and now we have a ''wonder drug'' and all the majority of you can do is condemn it.You are the most high risk group for HIV transmission and yet this is how you embrace a drug that could completely change your Lives.Shame on you all.

Truvada is 96% effective in stopping the transmission of HIV so start rolling it out and make it more affordable as well.It works.You Gay people are so selfish and stupid.You have a drug available to you yet all you can do is condemn it and call people on it Truvada whores.Pathetic considering how many people have died of Aids.

"Party drug" I dont' think so. My partner is HIV+ and I am neg, it's drugs like this that allow people to live normal lives like everyone else. 

Sooo many gays knowingly spread their HIV as a high they get in doing so. Most gays are known, even within their own circle of having no morals, and will suck n fuck anything with an erection.

Ever notice that nearly every HIV positive gay that is on public assistance for their meds, housing and meals are sorry trash looking for a hand out??

Dont help them!

To be honest, I'm very intrested in this drug. I'm not positive and have been celibate for about 5 years. But the truth is gay men are cruel, they attend to skip that part bout being positive sometimes or just don't want to tell you, even worst they might not know. However, for me personally, I wouldn't use it just to go around to each guy and that's not what anyone should do but just to have a better chance in being safe is good.

JayJ--

There are a multitude of reasons some men don't reveal their status. You named some of the good ones. However, the root causes are fear and ignorance. Unfortunately, some gay men are in those categories, but not all of us. Some of us are coping with being positive in very real and efficient ways. Part of that is by being being honest with ourselves and others. NOT everyone is that strong. However, for those of us who are, we realize that life was meant to be lived to it's fullest, and to make things count. Before I became positive, I always thought that it was the WORST thing that could happen to someone. It isn't. However, empowering others to be honest about themselves is. If you meet someone who is positive, and you like them as a person, let that inform your choice, don't let the fact that they're positive deter you from having a relationship. Remember, mixed status couples DO exist, and they navigate their relationships day by day just like the rest of us. Being safe IS good, but NOTHING in life is 100% safe ANYWAY! Just a little food for thought :-) 

I understand the concern re disinhibition. However, this statement is not only serves to condemn and shame gay men and others who may benefit from PrEP. It may actually dissuade gay men and others from utilizing a tool that could considerably lower their risk. We cannot manage the level of responsibility exercised by every single individual. We can provide multiple strategies and tools for the folks who need them most with the understanding that that many will reduce not increase transmission risk. It's not about having something "better than" condoms. It's about having options in addition to condoms, whether or not some may choose to use them in place thereof.

Truvidia and Stribuild are NOT party drugs.

I'm offended by this. Truvada originally was developed as an ARV to help HIV+ persons manage their HIV regimen AND as a PREP. IF Truvada has now become the "Party Drug" of choice for "HIV- Bug Chasers" who think that by popping a Truvada & then having unprotected anal sex, that they are going to remain HIV free, think AGAIN! In this day and age, it is incomprehensible to me that HIV- men who are barebacking would stigmatize ANYONE for their behavior.

I say: as an HIV+ gay man for over 10 years now, I am a Complera whore and proud of it! It's helping me live longer and more productively, and it's managing my health and keeping my viral load low and my t-cells high & strong. I thoroughly agree with Gt however, the stigma is primarily perpetrated by younger, ignorant gay men, who want to engage in the heady thrill of bareback sex, but don't want to face the "stigma" of being HIV+, which, if you consider the facts of infection, WILL happen to them anyway, with or without a PREP regimen. I DO, and DO NOT agree with what Weinstein said (or purportedly said), I DO AGREE with the fact that NO Medication should ever replace the socially responsible use of condoms, but I DO NOT agree with labeling Truvada as a "party drug" which to me suggests twinks using credit cards to crush up Truvada pills and snort them, which, of course happens, BUT, that is not the intended use of Truvada, nor should people's social irresponsibility be held responsible for someone choosing it as an ARV if it works for them.

It's socially irresponsible use that makes people label it a "party drug", but for those that are actively using Truvada as an ARV regimen, it stigmatizes them, and that is a disservice to our community overall. Ecstasy, LSD,GHB, Meth, Poppers, those to me are "party drugs" that were developed and intended for such use. Truvada and other ARV's were not, and as such, should not be stigmatized in the same way. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I for one, am glad I didn't get infected until 2004, which means I'm lucky enough to have ARV's at my disposal. However, I am just old enough at 40 to also remember the scary times of the epidemic in the 80's and early 90's (I grew up in NYC), and the relief that came about in the mid-90's with the advent of ARV's. These are important facts about the history of the AIDS/HIV Epidemic in America, and for the younger generation who takes for granted that there are "Pills" to manage HIV infection and exposure, and doesn't have the experience of the days of AZT and watching friends, co-workers, lovers and communities die like flies, there is a backlash of stigma and ignorance that is now "plaguing" the post-plague population of younger gay men. It goes without saying that people like Weinstein, who are in charge of large agencies such as AHF, to really consider the commentary they make, and how they influence trends socially, especially how they influence the younger generation in making socially and sexually responsible choices.

Stigmatizing people and NOT looking at the larger societal picture make us doomed to repeat our mistakes collectively, and keeps people ignorant. NOT a good thing when you consider how much life we all have to live and how much you can experience, whether your poz or neg. 

LIFE IS TO LIVE, NOT TO CONDEMN OTHERS FOR THEIR CHOICES!

Well said!

I had my doctor put me on it, unfortunately I had adverse side effects to it, and I had to discontinue its use, it's too bad because as someone who hates condoms (and I do my best not to use them) it was a great alternative. I think anything you can do to prevent becoming HIV + is a good thing, and that includes condoms. 

If its not a good drug. Then why prescribe to everybody ?

Barebacking WILL happen. To pretend it won't without Truvada is pure ignorance. ANYTHING that might prevent one person for becoming infected is worth it. I'm 50 and have been poz for 20 years. It's not the disease that's cruel, it's gay men.

I think that anything that could reduce the infection rate of HIV should be taken as a PREP. The stigma is so unwarranted. Next we will look at buying a condom as the person being a whore. Get a grip. If there were a pill to reduce the likelihood of contracting cancer, everyone would be taking it.

Yeah, I see guys advertising "on PrEP" on Grindr.  Basically means "anything goes."

No it doesn't.  It basically means "you can be assured of my HIV- status; I've taken steps to protect myself.  I'm responsible, and I care about my health and the health of my partners."  

No drug is 100% safe. Life ends in death 100% of the time. It's about being honest and acknowledging your risk.  It's not for everyone.
Oh, and I'm 35.

Makes me wonder what kinds of parties he goes to.  

Condoms aren't 100% safe, neither is crossing the road. So why not use this as another preventative measure?

I could see it being labeled as a party drug.  Recent partners would do anything to avoid using condoms during sex.  Mostly because of decreased sensation.  And they will do anything to have bareback sex, even trust a drug that is not 100% safe.  These are mostly guys under the age of 30.

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