In July of 2012, the FDA approved an HIV treatment pill called Truvada to be taken daily by uninfected people. Truvada acts as a pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Also known as a PrEp, this term means that not only can this pill be used to treat people who are already infected with HIV, it can also be administered orally once a day as a highly effective HIV preventative for anyone who is 12 years of age or older.
This wonder drug passed through testing with flying colors and was proven to be 99% effective against the virus, when taken everyday (96% effective when taken 4 days a week), versus the placebo group. Truvada is a serious breakthrough for serodiscordant couples (meaning one who has HIV and one who does not) and for anyone who wants to take further precautions to protect themselves against the contraction of HIV.
If you are like me, right now you are probably wondering why you never heard of this drug. How has 2 years of news gone by with this HIV preventive not making top stories in the media? And, why have only a mere 1,774 prescriptions for Truvada been filled since its approval nearly 2 years ago?
Unfortunately, most of the publicity revolving around this medical advancement has been targeted primarily to the gay community, which promotes false stereotypes regarding HIV even further. This is particularly annoying since this is negative propaganda against the gay community and because the very real risk of HIV affects everyone worldwide, and therefore this virus should be treated as a human problem, not a gay problem. Obviously, anyone who participates in unprotected sex should at least be aware of Truvada, even if they chose not to take it.
The Hazards of Truvada
The dangers of the drug, not counting the reduced kidney function and possible migraines associated with daily intake of Truvada, is the inevitable, “immortal,” feeling that comes with it. People on Truvada are more likely to make risky sexual choices, including unprotected sex with strangers, because of their anti-HIV security pill. Experts agree that while Truvada is a miracle of science, it is not a cure all and should not be an excuse to indulge in risky sexual behavior.
In fact, at one point during the scientific testing process, it was thought that Truvada may increase the risk of contracting the STD known as Syphilis, because there was such a high instance of this potentially deadly bacteria suddenly showing up in people who recently began a Truvada regimen. However, upon further investigation, it was discovered that Truvada doesn’t increase the risk at all, it was the patients’ increasingly risky behavior after going on the pill which caused this rise in Syphilis contractions.
Despite this medical advancement, it is absolutely essential for the wellbeing, health and safety of anyone who is sexually active to consistently use condoms. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, vasectomies, birth control pills, IUDs or Truvada pills- condoms, like the super thin Durex Avanti Bare are designed to keep you and your partner as safe as possible while you engage in any type of sexual activity.
An easy rule of thumb is this: if what you’re doing involves any kind of penetration, you are at risk for a bacterial infection, such as Syphilis. This is not to mention skin-to-skin sexually transmitted viruses like HPV and HSV. These lifelong afflictions can be spread even without penetration. Using a condom is always the best way to go about having safer sex in any circumstance, while still feeling all the pleasure you’ve come to expect from a great sexual experience.