When I first saw the #PrEP hashtag on Instagram, I immediately thought of my favorite kind of men, the stylish East Coasters donning Ralph Lauren and well-worn cashmere sweaters. But we are talking about an entirely different branch of preppy men here - American gays taking an HIV prevention pill called Truvada. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, shortened as PrEP, is described by Wikipedia as "any medical or public health procedure used before exposure to the disease causing agent, its purpose is to prevent, rather than treat or cure a disease." Truvada is the first - and currently only - form of HIV PrEP medication approved by FDA in United States. It was approved already in 2012 but in May this year CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released the final quidelines of the medicines clinical use to prevent HIV transmission in high risk population groups. So it's basically a pill that taken correctly and frequently can reduce the risk of getting HIV up to 99 percent, according to studies. I know! Sounds too good to be true. And that's why a lot of people are confused.
I am not sure what to think about it either. I mean it sounds great but what is politically correct? Is it a condom in a pill? Will people ditch condoms entirely now? Does it actually work like claimed? Is it good or bad for AIDS awareness? How much does it cost? Why doesn't everyone know about it? Whatever you think about the whole thing, Truvada has opened up sexual health discussion about HIV and AIDS among gay men in United States and beyond. On Instagram and Twitter, gay men are posing and showing their Truvada bottles with different hashtags to say: I take it, I am healthy, I protect myself and you should too. Hashtag phenomena among the supporters of the medicine, the social media campaign #TruvadaWhore has produced t-shirts to make more people aware of PrEP and safe sex. In July, New York magazine's cover story on Truvada described it as "sex without fear". Advocate.com released a story of men on PrEP sharing their experiences recently as part of their 31 days of PrEP article series for October - a bigger discussion is on its way. PrEP is an another way of HIV Prevention, but like with condoms, you must be able to afford it and in the end, use it correctly. Prescribers must go to HIV screenings every three months. PrEP, much like condoms, doesn't offer a 100% protection against HIV and PrEP doesn't protect against any other STDs. There are lot of questions in the air for the future: will it eventually come to Europe, be adopted widely by straight people and one day be as normal as taking vitamins in the morning? And why don't people see using condoms as easy as taking a pill?