Results form a survey of 90 San Francisco gay men currently taking Truvada seem to echo the sentiments of some of PrEP’s biggest critics — a 45 percent increase in condom-less sex.
Dr. Brad Hare, the program director of a Kaiser Permanente AIDS prevention program in SF, has overseen some 500 patients who’ve begun taking Truvada as PrEP. The 90-person self-surveyed sample group makes up part of the 500.
In Dr. Hare’s entire group of PrEP patients, he reports that the number of sexual partners hasn’t gone up and there have been no new HIV infections.
“It is used to prevent HIV — and that seems to be working,” Hare said.
However, the 45 percent decrease in condom use has some health organizations troubled, though it’s important to remember that this number came from a study of only 90 men in one city. The pill may stave off HIV infection, but there are plenty of sexually transmittable diseases it does nothing to block.
Then again, it could be argued that things like gonorrhea and chlamydia, which are easily spread through oral sex, would still get passed along even if a condom is used for anal penetration. Try finding a guy who uses condoms during a blow job.
The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation has openly criticized the FDA for approving Truvada as PrEP, predicting this very scenario. AHF’s president, Michael Weinstein, has called Truvada a “party drug”, adding:
“Why would men take this medication if they intended to use a condom? It’s utterly predictable.”
Still, Dr. Hare has a different take:
“The reasons people are coming in are different. People are seeking PrEP because their friends are on it and they’re sharing stories about it changing their lives. Patients are coming in and saying, ‘It must be for me, too.’”