QUEERTY QUERY

Is PrEP the New Plan B for HIV?

michaellucaspinkJust a few days ago, porn impresario Michael Lucas (pictured) caused shockwaves within the gay community when he came out as an HIV negative man using the HIV drug Truvada for PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis. The idea behind PrEP is that taking the drug on a regular basis has been proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of HIV infection in its users, and can be as much a part of the safer sex conversation as regular condom use.

But should it be? A monthly dose of Truvada can run anywhere between $1,000 and $1,300 a month. That price alone makes PrEP unattainable for the average, non porn-king gay although there are assistance programs to get the drug for high-risk individuals who can’t afford it.

Though Lucas claims that none of his friends who are on Truvada for PrEP have experienced any major side effects, the fact remains that Truvada is a major medication to be taking into the body. Also it’s not very likely to hope that high-risk individuals who are experiencing one too many condom “slip-ups” can be tasked with the responsibility of taking a pill a day, seeing as how missing a dosage reduces PrEP efficacy.

Some will undoubtedly take this news as an excuse to ditch the condoms for good, undoing years of education about safer sex practices that focus on condom use. Others will either keep on using condoms or having bareback sex, whatever their sexual practices may be.

What is undeniable is that the PrEP program is shifting the conversation about HIV prevention and education in a major way.

So the question remains, Queerty readers: Should PrEP be seen as a sort of Plan B for HIV, meant to stem infection without the use of condoms or should it be seen as a last ditch effort, second only to regular condom use and safer sex education?