AHF President’s War on AIDS/HIV Prevention

AIDS Healthcare Foundation is riling gay men with a “sneering” ad campaign that has started up here in San Francisco and other major cities.

Via Business Wire:

In a new editorial ad campaign that will soon launch in gay publications and magazines nationwide, AHF President Michael Weinstein reminds the gay community of the central role condoms, HIV testing and treatment have played in controlling HIV and other STDs since the beginning of the AIDS movement. The article, entitled “The War Against Prevention,” questions efforts to direct public attention and resources away from proven methods that prevent the spread of HIV and STDs through consistent condom usage, HIV testing and treatment towards pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The full-spread advertorial is scheduled to begin appearing in Chicago, South Florida, San Francisco/Bay Area, Washington DC, Seattle, Dallas, and Brooklyn print gay publications this week, followed by placements in Los Angeles and New York City the following week.

“The question is: What will become of the condom culture that has been so hard fought since the beginning of AIDS?” Weinstein asks in the article. “No one can argue that men would prefer to have sex without condoms, but there are compromises we must make for the benefit of ourselves and society. While we cannot tell consenting adults that they must use condoms, we can tell them the truth. If you have multiple partners or your partner has multiple partners, the most effective protection for yourself, your partners and your community is a condom. Mass PrEP administration is a dangerous experiment that is not supported by medical science and is currently resisted by doctors and patients alike.”

“AIDS Healthcare Foundation is not against PrEP. Truvada can absolutely be the right decision for specific patients who, in consultation with their doctors, decide this is the best choice,” Weinstein explains. “However, the entire body of scientific data demonstrates that Truvada will not be successful as a mass public health intervention. Yet, this is exactly what PreP advocates, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend.”

“We have another incredibly powerful tool to prevent HIV infection: any person who is HIV-positive, whose virus is undetectable, is 96 percent non-infectious to others,” Weinstein continues. “Yet in the United States only 40 percent of HIV-positive people are even seeing a doctor for their HIV and only 30 percent are undetectable. If every person with HIV in the United States knew their status, went on treatment, and had their viral load under control, there would be no new HIV infections.”

While I agree that condomn usage is a good thing, I have many, many friends who choose to bareback on a regular basis. Why not tackle the problem with continued encouragement for condom usage AND emphasizing the benefits of PrEP? As they say, there are many ways to skin a cat.

The ad itself (above) conjures a leering bearded (supposedly gay?) man leering at his sexual partner – who looks scared to death. The photo implies (at least to me) that the leering lover is about to infect the other with HIV. Not sure this is the right messaging to scare people into HIV prevention – whether it be condoms, abstinance, or PReP. Along with Weinstein's anti-PReP stance, the ad campaign just gives me the heebie jeebies.

As it does others. Here are comments about the Business Wire story on a friend's Facebook page:

This issue is continuing to boil in the gay community. Stay tuned.


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