Gay Men & Cable News
How many years has it been since AIDS Inc began discussing dispensing potent HIV medicines to negative persons engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors, as a form of prevention? I don't know the answer, and it's been a long time since the debate about it started, so where can we turn for the latest info?
Longtime gay reporter Bob Roehr in the latest Bay Area Reporter has a very informative update on the current efforts with PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and its potential impact on the gay male community.
However, the story also raises alarms about America's top AIDS adviser to the president. From the BAR:
An ideal PrEP drug would be potent, very safe, rapid acting, concentrate in the genital tract, act early in the virus life cycle before it integrates into cellular DNA, have a high barrier to the development of resistance, and be affordable. [...]
Human trials currently are under way involving more than 20,000 people throughout the world and the first data on whether or not it works should begin to become available late next year.
Nobody expects it to be 100 percent effective, but then nothing is. Whether it is 30 percent, 50 percent, or 90 percent effective will have a great impact on how likely people are to embrace PrEP.
"There is a high risk for demagoguery about this issue," said Jeff Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House. "My nightmare is the cable talk shows saying, this is just another way to let irresponsible homosexuals have more sex."
Crowley also fears that PrEP may lead to greater irresponsible behavior on the part of those who feel they are protected, even though that protection is limited.
"It feels like a lot of people see this as our next magic bullet, and that scares me," he said.
Ugh. Almost thirty years into the AIDS epidemic in America, a Democrat in the White House and the GOP in the minority in the Congress, an openly gay man serving as the nation's HIV czar, and do we hear words from the Obama administration exhibiting a stiff backbone? Sadly, not at all.
Judging Crowley on his words in the BAR, I say he's quite the sissy and I fear what his tenure will be like, if, at this early point under his reign, he can't muster a stiff spine and a plan to deal with right-wing cable news making a story out of an effective and safe PrEP plan.
At the dawn and through the awful early years of HIV in the 1980s, I was over allowing federal health officials to be so driven and dependent upon fear! fear! fear! of all sorts setting the agenda, and in 2009 I sure as hell will not tolerate scared federal authorities engaging in the same wrong mind-set that we saw under Reagan.
If scaredy-cat Crowley needs help crafting counter-arguments that might be made if we get effective PrEP and the right-wingers attack it, he can contact me and I'll help him promote good sexual health for gay males and preventing HIV infections.
Frankly, I hope Crowley looks at the fight over women's health and the development of RU 486 and Plan B, two choices in the pregnancy-prevention toolkit, and learns a few lessons.
When the Abortion Pill and the Morning-After Pill came along, many conservatives argued each would encourage unsafe sex and promiscuity among heterosexuals. Basically, the conservatives wanted to stop scientific advances, delay or deny women these health options, and to provide as little education about them as possible.
I don't recall women's health advocates shying away from either pill and its proper usage, all because right-wingers were upset. The advocates without apology promoted a sensible and affordable approach to women's sexual health issues.
All that aside, I have to keep in mind that Crowley's fearful remarks, made before the White House forced out green jobs czar Van Jones over the weekend, because of his past leftist history and attacks by Fox News pundit Glenn Beck, are likely only to solidify. I don't imagine Crowley looks at Jones' resignation and sees reason for him to promote and defend creation of PrEP for gay men.