Why I Am A Truvada Whore

May 20, 2014
AHF
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BY CHRISTOPHER GLAZEK

I’ve been taking PrEP for over six months, and have urged many friends to follow suit—sadly too late for some.

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Last November, one month after he began taking Truvada as part of demonstration project in San Francisco, 26-year-old Adam Zeboski saw an article in Huffington Post that made his blood boil. The article, written by an HIV-positive freelance writer named David Duran, was titled “Truvada Whores?” and expressed concern that promiscuous gay men were lining up to take an AIDS prevention pill so they could continue having dangerous bareback sex. The author was not entirely opposed to PrEP; he thought it was appropriate for serodiscordant couples in monogamous relationships—not for unattached young sluts. Many healthcare providers agreed, just as they did in the 1960s, when most doctors refused to prescribe birth control pills to unmarried women.

Zeboski, whose uncle had died of AIDS in 1987, the year before he was born, was not taking Truvada to become a “whore.” “At the time,” he told me, “I was in a monogamous—well, sort of monogamous—relationship with someone who was HIV positive.” Under Duran’s logic, he was part of PrEP’s “deserving poor,” a category of people who merited protection from HIV because they were purusing stable, domestic relationships and not using PrEP as sex-life accelerator. Under the birth control analogy, Zeboski was a good 50s housewife, not a radical young harlot tempting married men.

The problem was that Zeboski’s problem was not that he felt targeted by the article—it was that he thought that everyone deserved protection from HIV, not just people who had coupled with someone HIV-positive. Zeboski didn’t have much tolerance for slut-shaming—he had endured quite enough as a Catholic school student growing up in Sacramento, where abstinence-only sex education was the order of the day. He saw a similar spirit behind the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s vigorous and well-funded PrEP defamation campaign, which was on on vivid display earlier this year when Michael Weinstein, AHF’s president and co-founder, has told Buzzfeed Truvada was a “party drug” and that its strongest advocates were all “associated with bareback porn.”

Where others saw random yelling, Zeboski saw an opportunity. He decided to hijack the “Truvada Whore” meme by designing and selling a striking sky-blue tshirt printed with the hashtag “#TruvadaWhore.” (Perhaps in a nod to Weinstein’s barebacking claim, he also created an alternate version for his friend, porn star Blue Bailey, that reads “I#TruvadaWhores,” meant to be read “I pound Truvada Whores”). “I knew I wanted to do something connected to social media, and something that was funny and cute,” Zeboski told me. “I also knew I wanted it to be blue, because the pill’s that color.” So far he’s sold about 200 shirts and is funneling the modest profits back to the AIDS organizations.

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