PrEP: Wonder Drugs or False Security?

 

I was recently asked about my thoughts on the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs within the CTS Community.

The idea behind PrEP drugs in one of preventative medicine. You take a regular dose of specific medication and it prevents you from becoming infected with a disease if you become exposed to it. This is the basic concept behind vaccinations. But PrEP is not a vaccination.

The term is primarily used in reference to the drug Truvada which has been shown to significantly reduce the chance of a person contracting HIV. So this is the question before us: Should active participants in the CTS Community be taking Truvada to prevent the spread of HIV?

My answer: Maybe. Or maybe not.

Obviously, HIV is one scary virus. Nobody wants it. Nobody wants to die from AIDS. But PrEP could be far more dangerous to our community than HIV risks currently are.

I will leave the discussion of how effective and safe Truvada is for another day (and another, more qualified, writer). I’m going to talk about the cultural issue.

HIV scares us. It should. But it shouldn’t be our only worry. Unfortunately, it often is the disease that gets all the attention. Truvada is reported to be fairly effective at preventing the disease. It should seem a “no brained” that we should all be taking this medication. But it isn’t. Because HIV is far from our only medical danger. And Truvada is not known to be able to protect us from all the other nasty little microscopic attackers we face.

Let’s be totally honest. Even among the smartest of us, we can all be pretty stupid sometimes. Especially about sex. The issue of BBFS is a serious one. A drug like Truvada becoming widespread within our community could easily lead to an increase in unprotected sex. And this is very dangerous. An HIV prophylaxis would give people a false sense of security.

Far too many people within our community talk about HIV as if it is the only real danger. But there is another nasty killer lurking out there. Hepatitis. It has many types. And it is dangerous. It is also a more common disease than HIV. And it is easier to contract. And some types of Hepatitis will kill you. And possibly even faster that AIDS.

And Hep is not the only other danger. Have we forgotten about all the other diseases? Does anyone out there really want to see outbreaks of disease in our community? Because that is what will happen if people stop taking safety seriously.

I have no problem with people in our community taking a PrEP drug like Truvada. Perhaps it is even a good idea. Especially for sex workers who see a high volume of clients or those that see large numbers of new/unknown clients. Same for the clients who are highly active.

But there is a real danger in allowing such a drug to make one overly comfortable about safety. Condoms are still our best defense against diseases. That and being smart and safe about who you play with. We must avoid any move that could lead to a cultural acceptance of unprotected sex within our community. If you take Truvada, keep it to yourself. It should be your back-up to condoms, not your first line of defense.

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I am hoping to have a health care provider address this issue more completely from the medical perspective. While I was once an EMT, that hardly qualifies me to address the effectiveness and viability of such medical treatment in our community.

Please consult with your own physician before considering any medication.  The ValleyScott Blog is a website about sex, and is no substitute for sound medical advice from licensed doctor.

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2/17/19 Additional Comment:

I have been seeing A LOT of ads for this medication on television and social media lately.  While the ads do mention the need to use other forms of protection, I really feel that these ads are giving a false sense of security in regards to this drug.  It truly worries me that people in our community with think that this pill will protect them in the same way that condoms do.  Please, please continue to practice safe sex.  Condoms save lives.  Condoms save YOUR life.

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