AHF’s Latest Advocacy Ad asks, ‘What Consensus on PrEP?’

In News by AHF

Newest advocacy ad follows AHF’s November “CDC: What if you’re Wrong on PrEP?” ad, which challenged the wisdom of CDC’s May 2014 recommendation that 500,000 men-who-have-sex-with-men and other high-risk individuals go on Gilead’s HIV/AIDS medication Truvada as a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent possible HIV transmission.

AHF’s new ad, which starts appearing December 11th in newspapers and magazines in five markets nationwide, quotes 17 respected sources—physicians & researchers, long-time AIDS activists and journalists—who have raised questions or concerns about PrEP at some time over the past four years.

LOS ANGELES (December 11, 2014) Starting Thursday, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will expand its national ad campaign urging caution about the use of Gilead’s HIV/AIDS medication Truvada by uninfected individuals as a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent possible HIV transmission.

AHF’s newest advocacy ad headlined What Consensus on PrEP? follows the organization’s earlier CDC: What if you’re Wrong on PrEP?” ad, which challenged the wisdom of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that 500,000 men-who-have-sex-with-men and other high-risk individuals go on PrEP. AHF launched its current PrEP awareness campaign after examining PrEP study data and came to the realization that the data from nearly all official PrEP studies simply do not support such large-scale, community-wide deployment of PrEP. The primary reason was medication adherence: even in carefully monitored clinical trials demonstrating the drug’s clinical efficacy, many PrEP study participants simply did NOT take the medication every day as prescribed.

“Despite the fact that CDC and a number of other agencies, ASOs and activists have fully jumped on the PrEP bandwagon, if one looks carefully, there really appears to be no clear-cut consensus that overwhelmingly favors widespread use of PrEP,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “For one, the paucity of prescriptions written for Truvada for PrEP to date suggests there is certainly no consensus among medical providers that PrEP is a panacea for prevention. And, as the comments and facts cited in our current ad indicate, many respected sources—including physicians and researchers, long-time AIDS activists as well as some journalists—have shown that they understand that PrEP is a more complicated HIV prevention strategy with some significant drawbacks. As Dr. Mitchell Katz, Director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services and a former San Francisco public health official, told the Los Angeles Times just last week, PrEP ‘…is a very useful intervention for a very small percentage of people…I don’t think it’s for everyone.’

AHF’s “What Consensus on PrEP?” ad will appear in newspapers and magazines in five markets nationwide (New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, DC and South Florida). The ad quotes remarks, comments or cites directly from reporting from 17 respected sources (link to all footnotes from the Consensus ad)—physicians & researchers, long-time AIDS activists and journalists—who raise questions or concerns about PrEP. These comments about PrEP (all made over the past four years) range from an editorial in the medical journal “The Lancet” back in 2011—before the FDA had even approved use of Truvada for a PrEP indication—to remarks from individuals including playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer; POZ Magazine founder Sean Strub; Regan Hoffman, Former Editor-in-Chief of POZ Magazine; Dr. Gail Wyatt, Associate Director, UCLA AIDS Institute; Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, former Medical Director, HIV Services, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York;Dr. David Malebranche, Associate Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine; Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Physician and AIDS researcher; Josh Barro, New York Times reporter; and Liz Highleyman, a reporter for the LGBT paper the Bay Area Reporter.

PrEP, according to current FDA guidelines, is a four-part HIV prevention strategy, consisting of: 1) a baseline HIV test to ensure the individual is HIV-negative; 2) taking Truvada every day, once a day;

3) periodic (recommended every three months) follow up HIV testing to ensure the individual remains HIV-negative while on PrEP, as well as periodic hepatic function testing, and 4) suggested continued use of “comprehensive management strategies”  to “…reduce uninfected individual’s  exposure to HIV-1 infection,” including “…safer sex practices such as consistent and correct use of condoms.” 

AHF’s “What Consensus on PrEP?’’ ad campaign will run in the following publications: California: Frontiers (12/11/14), Bay Area Reporter (12/18/14), Texas:Dallas Voice (12/11/14), New York: Gay City News (12/12/14), Washington, DC:Metro Weekly (12/19/14), Washington Blade (12/19/14) and in South Florida:SFGN (South Florida Gay News—12/17/14), Florida Agenda (12/18/14) and Hotspots (TBD).

The “What Consensus on PrEP?’’ campaign may expand to other markets as AHF continues to raise public awareness in cautioning against the widespread scale up of PrEP for possible HIV prevention. The ads also serve to educate the public as to the critical, but complicated role adherence to the controversial HIV prevention protocol plays in the overall success of PrEP when deployed more widely among the general public.

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