There are a lot of considerations that go into a decision to start medications for HIV. It is true that the earlier that a person starts medications, the better the long-term outcomes. I am a realist, however, and I understand that not everyone is ready, willing or able to start medications as soon as they are diagnosed. Inevitably, I come into contact everyday with newly diagnosed individuals who are considering this very question. Here are five points that I would like people to consider when talking about HIV medications.
My name is Aaron M. Laxton. I am an award-winning International HIV/AIDS activist. I am a social worker, a writer. What I want you to know, however, is that I am also a survivor of intimate partner violence (IPV). Intimate partner violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, sex, gender or orientation.
By now, Ferguson, Missouri has gained international attention. Being a 4th generation-resident of St. Louis, I wish the attention was for reasons other than police brutality, riots and the death of an unarmed teenager. Last night, day seven of the movement, I decided to venture down to Ferguson. For those of you who are unaware, Ferguson is in St. Louis County, located about 15 minutes north of downtown St. Louis.
I sit waiting at a coffee shop in the Central West End at the Washington University in St. Louis Medical School. This meeting, like most these days, are spent working on strategic planning for implementing PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a one-pill-a-day drug regimen that has been shown to be up to 99% effective in preventing HIV infection. People slowly trickle into the working group and we start to address the task at hand. Who could benefit the most from access? Believe it or not, it is not those who are waging a moralistic attack on whether or not it should be used. For the most part, it is not even the people who will read this article or who are on social media. That is because the people who could benefit the most from PrEP are limited on resources. The young, black male who has sex with men or the Latino ages 13-24; that is who are falling casualty of this absurd power struggle.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a proven concept. Regardless of whether opponents want to admit it or not, "bio-medical prevention" IS the key to reducing new-HIV infections in the highest-risk groups where previous risk-reductions methods have failed. Today, thanks to new research and science, we have a new method that can help those who are at the highest risk. We do not need more data; we do not need more trials to look at efficacy and safety ... PrEP is already a PROVEN concept. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn't know how to read data, is pushing their own agenda, or they are simply regurgitating the views of other people who have no clear understanding of the topic.
Let me take a second to debunk a commonly held myth: "Meth is not fun or pleasurable." That simply is not true, in the beginning. The fact is that there is something about the experience of using meth that seemed attractive to me. The truth is that there came a point where it became far too much work to achieve the same high that you had the first time I used. This is commonly referred to as "chasing the high" not to mention the toll that my body paid in the process of that futile mission. This mission could best be described as "my love affair with meth."
"Why should I care about HIV criminalization? People who purposely expose others to the virus should face justice." This response is nothing new. By now, I am well-acquainted with answering the question. As an HIV-positive male who is living in a serodiscordant relationship, prosecution under HIV criminal statutes is an ever-present fear. It does not matter that my partner is aware of my HIV positive status or that I am undetectable and on antiretroviral therapy. Conversely, if you are living with HIV you need to be aware that HIV criminalization impacts you.
This is a very loaded question and one that is without doubt going to invoke debate and conversation. For all of the negative things that people say and read about AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) there is one simple reality: At least they are doing something. I already can hear people saying, "All they do is create stigma, shame and enemies and that is not what we need." Maybe so, but at least they are doing something.
There is a new battle raging in the deep-south that without doubt could have implications for everyone living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. Louisiana has found itself in a battle between those living with HIV/AIDS and insurance providers, namely Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS).
After doing research on new safety devices being proposed to protect drivers and passengers of automobiles, I have come to a conclusion: There is no need for an increase in new safety devices.