It was 1996. And Michael Lucas had a boyfriend. All was well. Until the boyfriend tested positive for HIV.
“It was fearful. So unpleasant,” Lucas, 42, recalled. “He accused me of giving it to him and we went to get tested and I was negative. Seeing him so desperate, I was scared for him.”
Lucas no longer fears getting the virus because he now takes Truvada and believes that’s enough to protect him from a disease that has taken the lives of so many gay men.
Today he is a famed gay porn director and has become an outspoken advocate for Truvada, which is being touted by many as a way to stop the HIV epidemic.
What is Truvada?
Truvada is a mainstream HIV medicine that is now being used to prevent HIV in what’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly known as PrEP. Doctors in the U.S. have used pre-exposure prophylaxis for decades to prevent other diseases such as malaria in American’s traveling abroad.
The drug has been around for about a decade and is produced by California-based Gilead Sciences. It’s one of the key drugs used (in combination with others) in the basic treatment for HIV.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada for PrEP on July 16, 2012. In May of this year the U.S. Public Health Service (the agency in charge of the Centers for Disease Control) released the first comprehensive clinical practice guidelines for PrEP recommending pre-exposure prophylaxis with Truvada to be given to high infection risk populations.
“This is another great tool against HIV,” said Jack Mackenroth, a celebrity HIV activist. “We have a drug that’s proven to prevent HIV transmission so why isn’t everyone taking it?”
Mackenroth has been taking Truvada for 7 years — for treatment of his HIV, not prevention.
Some have argued that the long-term side effects of Truvada are unknown, another reason to not take the drug. Mackenroth said: “I haven’t had any side effects. You know what does have side effects though? HIV.”