Jeffrey Fernandez

This Drug Lowers Gay Men’s Risk Of Getting HIV By 90%, But Many People Don’t Know About It

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), also known by its commercial name Truvada, is a daily medication used to prevent HIV infections that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

The statistics of how well PrEP works at preventing HIV are astounding.

According to the CDC, when taken daily and in conjunction with other preventative measures such as using a condom during sex, PrEP “can reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV by more than 90 percent.”

Even more astonishing, a two and a half-year study performed by researchers from Kaiser Permanente found no new HIV infections among their patients while they were taking PrEP.

However, within six months of taking of PrEP 30 percent of the patients in the Kaiser Permanente study reported having a sexually transmitted infection (STI), at 12 months, 50 percent of patients reported an STI, yet still no new HIV infections.

You can read the full study here: http://share.kaiserpermanente.org/article/large-study-of-prep-use-in-clinical-practice-shows-no-new-hiv-infections/

After all the HIV/AIDS activists who died fighting for preventative medication, PrEP is almost too good to be true. People should be showering the streets with glitter and confetti and screaming at the top of their lungs with joy.

PrEP is not only changing the game, but can hopefully be a big part of the effort in eradicating HIV infections around the world.

PrEP is not only changing the game, but can hopefully be a big part of the effort in eradicating HIV infections around the world.

However, even though studies have proven the tremendous effectiveness of PrEP, and although PrEP is creeping its way into pop culture dialogue with its inclusion in an episode of How To Get Away With Murder, many health care providers aren’t even aware of the medication’s existence.

Watch: PrEP mentioned on How To Get Away With Murder

In a Nov. 24th media release, Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said, “PrEP isn’t reaching many people who could benefit from it, and many providers remain unaware of its promise.”

1 in 3 doctors and nurses are unaware of PrEP.

And 1 in 3 doctors and nurses are unaware of PrEP. You can read the media release and find out more about the CDC’s research on PrEP

Miami Multidisciplinary Artist and Cultural Organizer Guillermo León Gómez, experienced this lack of awareness first hand last year.

“I wanted to discuss if there were any possible precautions with an existing disorder of mine and, if not, I would like to begin medicating,” Gómez said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “He [Gómez’s doctor] was unfamiliar with the medication and referred me to an infectious disease doctor. ”

What’s even more startling is the immense backlash PrEP has received and the contradictory studies being released by major health organizations.

In a 2014 infographic by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the foundation makes clear it position.

“AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has taken the position that the scientific data do not support the large-scale use of Truvada [PrEP] as a community wide public health intervention,” the infographic reads.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 1.25.03 PM

A infographic produced by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) opposing the use of PrEP. Photo Credit: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

The foundation explains the low of effectiveness of PrEP is due to “participants [not taking] Truvada as prescribed by medical professionals.”

Yet, what the foundation failed to include in their infographic is that PrEP typically works when taken daily as prescribed.

Fast forward a year later to August 2015, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has taken out a large scale advertising campaign, which would later appear in gay publications nationwide, condemning the science behind PrEP.

And what’s really fascinating is the paragraph prior to the one where the sentence is located, it’s stated that PrEP will not work as a mass public health prevention even though the CDC recommends it. How’s that for medical science? You can view and download the ad here (link: http://bit.ly/1PW6Y2i).

Research and extensive studies have been done on PrEP. But with a lack of awareness in the medical professional world and erroneous information being propagated by big health organizations, the efficiency of PrEP can seriously slow down if not come to a complete halt.

Do you have an opinion about PrEP and whether its use should be encouraged in the gay community? We are interested in publishing you! Send us an email to editor@risenews.net

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: GGAADD/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

If House And Senate Don’t Agree, Could There Be A Government Shutdown Over Syrian Refugee Program Changes?

The unfortunate recent terror attacks in Paris have led to more than half-31 to be precise of the nation’s governors to declare that they will refuse entry to Syrian refugees into their states.

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott among others had gone so far as to request House Republicans push a bill through Congress to prevent Syrian refugees from entering his state.

On Nov. 19th, the governors’ wishes was granted. The House passed the SAFE Act, with an overwhelming 289-137 vote, enough to override a veto, which President Obama has already said he would do if the bill were to pass the Senate.

The SAFE act wouldn’t stop Syrian refugees from entering the United States, however, it could place a very long pause on the current Syrian refugee program.

The act would add an extra screening process in the already extensive, 18-24 months, vetting procedure refugees must go through before placement in the country by requiring the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence personally sign off on each refugee granted entry.

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are also offering their own alternative to the SAFE Act, which would place limitations on the visa waiver program by refusing eligibility to individuals who have traveled to Syria or Iraq in the past five years, the real question is whether the Senate will be able to block the House’s bill from passing before their alternative can get off the ground.

It’s also possible the House and Senate and the bipartisan coalitions in each will reach a stalemate. If you keep in mind the fact the next government budget deadline is Dec. 11th, then it wouldn’t be completely out of place for House Republicans, (with perhaps some Democratic support) to threaten another government shutdown in order to pass the SAFE Act. In fact, it is entirely possible.

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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