LITTLE BLUE PILL

San Francisco Politician Comes Out Of The Truvada Closet To Combat PrEP Stigma

1Scott Wiener sits on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and this week he made an unprecedented announcement: he’s on PrEP.

More specifically, he takes Truvada, a daily pill that’s been shown to cut the risk of HIV infection by upwards of 90 percent.

Wiener represents the same Castro-based district that Harvey Milk did, and wants to fight PrEP stigma head on, starting with his own personal disclosure.

Wiener said in an interview:

“A much larger segment of gay men should be taking a close look at PrEP. I hope that my being public about my use of PrEP can help people take a second look at it.”

We first read about it in the New York Times’ “Upshot,” a recently added online section that is largely data-driven, breaking down otherwise confusing stories involving complex science or numbers into more digestible media.

The author of the piece, titled San Francisco Official Says He Takes Truvada to Prevent H.I.V., and More Gay Men Should, Too, Josh Barro, writes:

“Taking the pills is a practice known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and some researchers believe it may reduce the risk of infection by 99 percent if patients take their medication daily as prescribed.”

Interestingly, he doesn’t mention that almost exactly two months ago, he wrote another article for the Upshot titled Is Truvada, the Pill to Prevent H.I.V., 99 Percent Effective? Don’t Be So Sure.

In that piece, Barro say’s of the “99 percent” claim:

“This is a claim I hear thrown around a lot among gay men in New York. And it’s wrong. The 99 percent figure isn’t a study finding; it’s a statistical estimate, based on a number of assumptions that are reasonable, but debatable.”

Which is to say nothing of Wiener’s plan to get more San Franciscans on the drug, but it did strike us as an odd bit of reporting.

Wiener and another gay city supervisor, David Campos, are holding a hearing today to address ways to combat the “educational and affordability issues” of Truvada.