So many serious questions are never asked

By | 5th July 2017

European Parliament calls for more people to get PrEP in Europe

PrEP at the moment seems to prevent HIV infection. These are the same meds that people who are HIV positive take to prevent themselves from developing AIDS and dying.

The wider question (which as usual simplistic promotional articles like this one in Gay Star News never ask) is: what other effects will PrEP have on the individual taking it and wider society?

It’s a bit like us all demanding chemo therapy on the NHS even though we don’t have cancer. Just because it might reduce our risk of developing cancer, but with no thought for the other side effects and cost.

What effect will PrEP have on the health of the men who take it, 10, 20 or 30 years from now?

Will it drive down condom use and if it does how many men will suffer health problems as a result? Due to peer pressure to go onto PrEP, the side effects from that and an increased risk of other sexually transmitted diseases. More of which will be going around and some of which may be resistant to antibiotics in the near future.

The article states that PrEP “all but eliminates the risk of transmission where viral loads are reduced to undetectable levels.” This reference to viral loads and being undetectable refers to the status of the HIV+ man you meet, not you the PrEP user. In the real world you have no way whatsoever of knowing that another persons viral load is undetectable when you have sex. Viral loads can increase and some gay men lie to get what they want. Putting your health in the hands of another person by believing what they say has never been a sensible safer sex strategy.

If the guy happens to be lying, actually has a high viral load, and you don’t use a condom, PrEP may only be 92% effective as stated in the article or even less. Are you feeling lucky? In some UK cities up to one in seven gay men are reckoned to be HIV+ and you only need to be infected with HIV by one sexual encounter.

That is why we use condoms and moderate our sexual behaviour to reduce risks – not doing some of the more high risk sexual activities. And if you’re using a condom why bother with PrEP and all the associated risks and costs to the NHS?

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