Giving gay men a daily pill to prevent HIV transmission doesn’t lead them to take fewer safety precautions when they engage in sexual activity, according to the results from a new large study published in the Lancet. Those findings should help ease the concerns of some critics of the pill, known as Truvada, which is emerging as a new tactic in the global fight against AIDS pandemic.
The public health community is increasingly optimistic about Truvada’s potential to prevent future HIV infections; both U.S. health officials and the World Health Organization have officially endorsed the daily use of the pill for people at the greatest risk of contracting the virus. However, some HIV prevention advocates have resisted that approach, arguing that giving more gay men access to Truvada will simply encourage them to engage in riskier sex because they’ll assume they can skip latex condoms altogether.
Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is one of Truvada’s biggest critics. He’s called it a “party drug” and insists that its supporters are mainly interested in having sex without condoms. With the widespread use of the pill, he argues, the rates of other sexually transmitted infections in the LGBT community will actually rise.
But researchers involved in the new study, called iPrEx OLE and released during a prominent international AIDS conference currently being held in Australia, found evidence to dispute those claims.