Longtime HIV/AIDS activist and ACT UP founder Larry Kramer has changed his tune regarding PrEP and the HIV-blocking drug Truvada.
In an open letter to Truvada manufacturer Gilead, Kramer joined activists Jim Eigo, Matt Ebert, James Krellenstein, and Peter Staley in praising the drug as an “essential public health tool” while taking the company to task over its “abusive pricing.”
Kramer opposed PrEP in a strongly-worded statement to the New York Times in May 2014, suggesting one must have “rocks in their heads” for ditching condoms in lieu of a preventative drug. (FYI: Anyone who supports PrEP will tell you it must be taken in conjunction with using condoms for maximum protection — it’s not meant to be a condom substitute.)
“There’s something to me cowardly about taking Truvada instead of using a condom,” he said. “You’re taking a drug that is poison to you, and it has lessened your energy to fight, to get involved, to do anything.”
See how Kramer’s evolved on this issue in the open letter to Gilead, reprtined from Facebook below:
We – AIDS activists, new and old, aged 24 to 80 – have just broken bread in the same apartment where GMHC was formed, coming together for a lively discussion on how to reduce HIV infections among gay men and trans women. Although we may not see eye-to-eye on every issue we debated tonight, we all agree that Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective at protecting a person from HIV infection. While PrEP isn’t for everyone, any individual who thinks they are at risk of getting HIV should have easy access to it, without judgement.
We are fed up with Gilead’s abusive pricing of its near monopolies in drugs that treat and prevent HIV. Truvada as PrEP was not their idea, and came to market based on research they didn’t pay for. Gilead’s PrEP profiteering must end. Full access to lifesaving drugs has been a hallmark of our movement, and we will join with AIDS activists across America and around the world to double-down on this push for health equity.
PrEP, along with condoms, TasP (Treatment as Prevention), and better access to healthcare, are now essential public health tools in lowering HIV infections among gay men and trans women. We must use every tool necessary to help them – and to help all those at risk – stop this virus, once and for all.
ACT UP, Fight Back, Fight AIDS.