Facebook, ever the arbiter of real news and good ads, is removing ads that allegedly falsely claim the HIV prevention drug Truvada for PrEP has harmful side effects, following an outcry from LGBTQ activists.
Business Insider reports that the ads were posted several months ago by personal injury lawyers and listed a number of Truvada PrEP side effects that could scare people off the drug, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say pre-exposure prophylaxisis is up to 99 percent effective in preventing people from contracting HIV and has helped new HIV cases drop considerably since it was approved for use a few years ago.
In early December, LGBTQ advocate group GLAAD posted an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg (who seems to run social media platforms that have a problem with PrEP) asking Facebook to remove the ads. GLAAD called them “factually inaccurate” and caused “significant harm to public health.” Per the letter:
Leading public health officials, medical professionals, and dedicated PrEP navigators and outreach coordinators have shared that these advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are being directly cited by at-risk community members expressing heightened fears about taking PrEP.
This issue goes beyond misinformation, as it puts real people’s lives in imminent danger. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that when taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use. The CDC states: “Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily.” The World Health Organization recommends that “people at substantial risk of HIV infection should be offered PrEP as an additional prevention choice, as part of comprehensive prevention.”
Elizabeth Warren chimed in:
It seems that instead of openly admitting its mistake, Facebook has been quietly taking down the ads. GLAAD seems happy they’re doing it at all, though the group says they’d like to see Facebook take more action to stem the proliferation of fake news and misinformation. Wouldn’t we all!
“The question remains—why is Facebook taking money from these ambulance-chasing law firms for ads that are helping the spread of HIV?” Peter Staley, who cofounded the HIV/AIDS activist group the PrEP4All Collaboration, said in a statement, according to Business Insider.