Thursday, 2 March 2017

It’s Time to Break the Silence Around PrEP

Have you heard about PrEP?

Well if you have, you could be forgiven for being confused.

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a drug that stops HIV negative people from becoming infected with HIV. Simply put, if you are HIV negative and you take it and then have sex with someone HIV positive who is not wearing protection, it is highly unlikely that you will become infected with HIV.

But exactly what you know about PrEP depends a lot on where you get your information.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation says that “for people who take 7 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 99%”

Sounds great! I’m gonna get some PrEP!
But wait....

The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta says “Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%.”

Hm...that doesn’t sound quite as good. 

And what does Toronto’s own associate officer of medical health Dr. Rita Shahin say? “People on PrEP … could be more likely to acquire STIs because they may not be using condoms.”

Gee Whiz. Thanks for the useful information, Rita!

What is going on here? What is the conspiracy of silence -- which is really a conspiracy of lies -- surrounding a drug that could change our lives? Why is it that the only time we hear about PrEP on CBC is when a doctor is advising us not to take it? PrEP is a major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. HIV negative people can now protect themselves from being HIV positive. Why isn’t this news being shouted from the rooftops? 

Most importantly, why aren’t gay men happy about PrEP and why aren’t they ‘spreading the news’? 

Could it be guilt? Could it be shame? Could it be that all these years of people telling us that AIDS is God’s punishment for our sexuality has actually made us hate ourselves? I understand that PrEP doesn’t protect against Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Hepatitis, and people should still wear condoms.  But that is a separate issue.


Is there some reason why no one seems to want people to know about the effectiveness of PrEP?

It’s a question that plagues me. 
And honestly, I’m very afraid of the answer.