Hello there readers: Recently I was watching my 13-inch flat screen television, and I was absolutely floored by what I saw. I now know that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has come along way because I saw a commercial for Truvada (FTC/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate). That literally made me tear up because of how far science has made advances in HIV research to now be making commercials about HIV prevention.
I used to take this pill years ago as part of a four-medicine cocktail that required my full attention. For those of you that don't know it, when you take a four-pill cocktail, it is required that you take these pills as scheduled. If I ran out of one medicine, according to my HIV specialist, I couldn't take any of them till I was stocked with all of them. Why was that? The HIV virus could have built up resistance to the one missing medicine, and then, I would be in trouble.
Now, I don't have to worry about all these pills and remembering whether I have taken them all. Since my doctor has switched me to a one-pill-a-day HIV medicine called Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/FTC), there have been no problems, for which I am grateful. My viral load is undetectable and my CD4s are consistently over 800.
For the folks taking Truvada for the purposes of PrEP today, consider yourselves very lucky that this is available to you! I'm having an "old guy moment" here: Back in my day, before I became HIV positive, there were no meds available to prevent HIV transmission or anything that would allow me to survive very long after acquiring HIV.
Please let me be absolutely clear on my position here and tell you that Truvada will not be your get-out-of-jail-free card if you are living with HIV. There are still HIV criminalization laws on the books in the U.S. that overzealous prosecutors will use to make a name for themselves. The humiliation that comes with this can be unbearable for some people.
I have only been able to think about this perspective from the HIV-positive point of view. What about the other side of things? Let's say that I was HIV negative and only took this pill not to seroconvert to HIV positive. Can my actions be considered criminal if I pass on something that wasn't HIV?
Related: Has Anyone Gotten HIV When They Were on PrEP?
Now, from the point of view of a person who got caught up in the heat of the moment and ended up having condomless sex with someone who is HIV positive, that is when I think they would need Truvada to eliminate the chance of seroconverting.
I am grateful for this medicine, and its availability for all who need PrEP. To the HIV-negative people reading this: You still need to be responsible for your own actions, whether you had condomless sex with someone and are taking this pill, or if you unknowingly were exposed to HIV by someone. Your body is your responsibility, and I encourage you to take this seriously and read everything you can on TheBody to protect yourself from HIV and whatever else is out there.
Now that I am older and have lived with HIV for 28-plus years, I feel that I have a responsibility to educate everyone I can about this chronic illness and share with you my experiences as an HIV-positive man who has gone through the Oregon court system and how I have been victimized because of my HIV status while in prison. I occasionally find that discrimination still runs rampant in a prison setting, and it is my pleasure to stand up to educate and answer any questions they might have about HIV.
Check this out: if there is a PrEP medicine available in 2018 to combat HIV seroconverting, how far are we away from an actual cure now? I think that a cure is a lot closer than we realize. HIV will be cured one day, and then, what cures are next? Cancer?
Stay healthy & stay safe. Tim