World Health Organisation Urges All Gay & Bisexual Men to Take Anti-HIV Medication

PrEP AIDSThe World Health Organisation has made the recommendation that all men who have sex with men should start taking PrEP, medication that could prevent HIV infection, regardless of their current HIV status.

In a revision of its HIV prevention guidelines, the WHO has urged that all MSM (men who have sex with men) begin taking PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is up to 92% effective in the prevention of HIV infection. 

Despite the treatment’s effectiveness, the World Health Organisation acknowledges that the criminalisation of homosexuality in certain countries makes their own recommendations difficult to realise:

“Implementation may prove challenging, however, where access to services and provision of alternative prevention tools are limited or lacking. Issues of criminalization, stigma and discrimination, and violence should be considered during implementation, especially where same-sex behavior is illegal.”

The treatment, however, is not without its controversy. PrEP, known also as Truvada in the United States, has been branded as a “party drug” by some HIV/AIDS charities, because of the attitude to it.

As The Atlantic reports:

The WHO’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar policy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended in May that health workers offer PrEP, marketed in the U.S. under the brand name Truvada, to people at high risk of infection, including gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, and women who sleep with men of unknown HIV status. Long used by HIV-positive patients to stave off AIDS, Truvada sparked a bitter debate after it was approved as a prophylaxis in 2012. While some hailed its preventive properties, others—including many in the LGBT community—argued that it would quickly become a risky replacement for condom use.

“If something comes along that’s better than condoms, I’m all for it, but Truvada is not that,” Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation told the Associated Press in April. “Let’s be honest: It’s a party drug.”

For more information about PrEP, including its advantages and disadvantages, read Dr. Shay Keating’s article on PrEP from our September 2013 issue.


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About Scott De Buitléir

Scott De Buitléir is an author and poet from Dublin, Ireland. He is founder of EILE Magazine, a digital publication for the Irish LGBT community, and has published several works of poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. He lives in Cork with his partner.
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