We talk a great deal about sex education in schools. Whe should it be taught, who needs to learn what, should we give out free condoms and talk about the pill? Abstinence for everyone! Great, our kids are educated, not educated, out behind the barn, in chastity belts. If we cannot get that figured out, how are they going to become educated sexually active adults?
History is doomed to repeat itself, right? We hear that all the time. So if we as a nation do not educate ou children well, how will we as adults be open to learn about sex? Yes, we can always learn more about sex. What has changed about sex since you've become an adult? One of the biggest things has been PrEP.
As we have mentioned before many times over, doctors do not even know about the benefits of or what even PrEP is. Several of our readers have commented that they have had to educate their physicians about it.
In a new posting on RollingStone.com, an article titled "Why Aren't HIV Prevention Pills Going To The People Who Need Them?" addresses who is using PrEP, who isn't, and how horrific this is.
When Truvada was introduced four years ago as a way to prevent HIV, public health leaders didn't welcome the drug with open arms. The head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation panned the once-daily pill as a "party drug." Other health officials claimed that taking Truvada would cause a wave of wild unprotected sex. Even members of the LGBTQ community parroted the criticism, with one gay journalist (regretfully) labeling some users "Truvada whores."
But the last four years has seen a shift in attitude. More and more Americans are embracing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the HIV prevention method that requires a daily dose of Truvada to reduce viral risk. And more and more prescriptions are being written for the antiretroviral drug. While PrEP is growing in popularity, a new study out of the University of California released last month suggests that the populations most at risk of HIV infection are not the ones benefitting from the prevention strategy.
In a survey of gay and bisexual men in California, only a handful of participants reported having taken PrEP. PrEP use was highest among young white men, at 13.9 percent. For young Latino men, that figure was cut by more than half, while young black men represented less than 10 percent of people who started PrEP.
"This is not reflective of the HIV epidemic at all," says Shannon Weber, founder of Please PrEP Me, an online directory of over 230 clinics in California that provide PrEP. "It is reflective about access, and where and how people are getting that information." – RollingStone.com
The fact laden article goes on to talk about success stories of PrEP, but it really points out the racial disparity with PrEP usage and what populations are contracting HIV.
But what many advocates tout as a victory in HIV prevention is not without its problems. Black and Latino gay and bisexual men are most at risk for contracting HIV in their lifetime, more so than any other group. That means at this rate, one in two black men and one in four Latino men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Yet, as the University of California survey shows, black and Latino men are far less likely to use or even know about PrEP than their white counterparts.
"Black and Latino men who have sex with men, who are overrepresented in the epidemic, have low threshold access to the services," says Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, assistant health commissioner overseeing the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. – RollingStone.com
And it is not only a racial disparity issue, but a geographical one, too
California, where Weber is based, has the fifth highest rate of PrEP use per population, according to Gilead. It follows Florida, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts. But only Florida and New York are among the states with the highest lifetime risk of HIV diagnoses. New York is an outlier, though – the states with historically high infection rates are clustered in the South. Yet, the majority of those Southern states have the lowest number of PrEP use, suggesting that cultural and political barriers play a role in the disparity.
Last year, San Francisco and Los Angeles ramped up efforts to increase PrEP use among men who sleep with men and transgender women after receiving grants from the CDC as part of the agency's Project PrIDE initiative. In June of this year, MAC AIDS Fund announced a two-year, $1 million citywide program in Washington, D.C. to educate and promote PrEP use among black women — one of the groups most at risk in a city that once had the worst HIV rates in the country. Last week, researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta launched a searchable nationwide PrEP provider database. And in the coming months, about 70 community-based clinics in underserved areas throughout New York City will start providing PrEP with the support of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. – RollingStone.com
What the hell do we do? First of all "Truvada whores" may need to be deleted from our vocabulary. It's like the jocks are studs and the cheerleaders are sluts mentality all over again. It's not slut shaming, it's more sex shaming, it's shaming someone for being prepared, precautionary, and dammit … healthy.
We need to be more open about sex education, not only for our kids, but for ourselves. Besides the phrase "history repeats itself," there's another one. Maybe you remember it. "It's never to late to learn."
Head over to RollingStone.com for the entire article. It's worth the read no matter what color skin you may have. The video below reiterates many of the facts shared.