PrEP Should Be Fucking Free and Universally Accessible, Yet Another Study Suggests

Illustration for article titled PrEP Should Be Fucking Free and Universally Accessible, Yet Another Study Suggests
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In an ideal world, PrEP—that is, pre-exposure prophylaxis—would be free and universally accessible to anyone who wants it. I mean, it’s simple and easy for most people to manage; you just have to remember to take a single pill every day, and voilà! You’ll reduce your risk of getting HIV through sex by about 99%, and your risk of transmission through injectable drugs will go down by at least 74%.

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But thanks to our country’s profit-driven healthcare system and general aversion to giving poor people anything—HIV transmission and poverty are closely linked in the United States, according to Positive Women’s Network, with poverty putting one at greater risk for transmission and vice versa—all we’ve got are a pair of brand-name drugs (Truvada and Descovy) sold by the same price-gouging pharmaceutical giant (Gilead Sciences [boooo]) that can cost upwards of $2,000 a month out of pocket if you don’t have insurance to cover it. As a result, white men make up the majority of PrEP users in the U.S., despite the disproportionate risk of transmission for Black and Latinx Americans, not to mention the significant, though underdiscussed, rates of transmission among women, particularly Black women and trans women and women who do sex work.

I don’t know exactly what that ideal world where PrEP is universally accessible would look like. Put on the spot, I’d proffer something like “people living with HIV and other people in community with them redesign what care looks like following a revolution that successfully overthrew capitalism along with our profit-driven healthcare system and every other fucked-up institution it spawned.” But a new study suggests that residents of that ideal world would probably feel a lot more agency over their lives, gaining a newfound sense of control over their sex lives and substance use.

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AmPrEP, an Amsterdam-based PrEP demonstration project, tracked over 300 individuals taking the HIV-prevention regimen over a period of one to three years and found that “problematic” drug use and feelings of “sexual compulsivity” decreased significantly in that time, per NAM Aidsmap. While AmPrEP’s study did not find any decrease in depression and anxiety among participants, there is an “ever-increasing body of research that links PrEP to improved mental health,” PinkNews reports.

Given all this, it’s pretty egregious that the government is not taking meaningful action to make PrEP more accessible to anyone who wants it. Sounds like we should probably get rid of our government and replace it with something that won’t stand in the way of the will of the people, perhaps!

Freelance contributor

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DISCUSSION

officerfarva420
Officer Farva

I’ve heard that there are potential side effects from taking Truvada but I gotta ask, are PrEp and Truvada the same concept?