Revisiting “Truvada Whore,” Three Years Later

"There are always going to be skeptics—I know, because I was one. "

In November 2012, writer David Duran penned a piece on Huffington Post challenging the rush to embrace PrEP as a tool to combat HIV/AIDS. In it, he expressed his concern that gay men would become “Truvada whores,” a term that quickly went viral.

Now, nearly three-and-a-half years later, David revisits his opinion on PrEP.

After a recent phone conversation with a good friend, I have come to realize that a lot has changed since I first wrote about PrEP. He was talking to me about a recent HIV scare (that wasn’t really a scare but more of a reminder) and ended the conversation with, “Oh, and I finally got my PrEP prescription filled.”

Three years ago, I would have had so many more questions or comments, but my reaction to him was pretty simple: “Great, I’m glad you finally got around to it.”

prep-truvada

When I first heard about PrEP, I wasn’t convinced. I was also, at the time, a slut-shaming, sexually introverted and rather judgmental human being. So when I penned the once famous “Truvada Whore” opinion piece that haunts me to this day, I was coming from a place of not really understanding why anyone would need or want to take this pill when condoms where so readily available.

Being an HIV-positive man, I didn’t understand why anyone would ever want to risk a new infection. When I spilled my guts then for the world to read, the information on PrEP wasn’t as advanced as it is now. Most of the people I spoke with were the first to be on the Round One trials in San Francisco. So, beyond writing my opinion, my hopes were really to open up a dialogue.

I didn’t know that I would be vilified by my own community, which in retrospect I totally deserved.

Looking back, I don’t regret writing what I did—at the time, they were true and honest feelings. They might have been ignorant and offensive feelings, but I owned them. And I still do.

So much has happened since then—wonderful things really. A small-scale PrEP revolution took place, that eventually turned to large-scale one. Conversations have begun and attitudes have shifted, including mine.

Friends with digital tablet in cafe

Anytime I am see someone openly proclaiming to be on PrEP online or on a dating app, I get really excited. Not only because I believe in PrEP and think it’s helping to prevent new infections, but also because it’s teaching so many people about HIV.

I look at anyone that is on PrEP as being well-informed and someone who will not personally shame me for being HIV-positive.

People on PrEP, whether intentionally or not, are true allies to those of us who are HIV-positive. By taking control of their bodies and sexual experiences, they are telling the world that they aren’t afraid and that they are in charge of their health and bodies.

Two office workers talking at desk

Personally, PrEP within the gay community has really made the disclosure process easier for me—mostly because everyone is talking about PrEP now and those of us who are HIV-positive are not necessarily being overlooked by everyone.

It’s still a controversial topic and one that is still being discussed, thankfully. More and more, I find myself opening up to people and explaining what PrEP is and how it works. Those conversations are not taking place with other gay men, but rather between myself and friends with teenagers at home, or straight single friends, or family members that are genuinely curious as to what the hell I am talking about on my Facebook posts.

And when we discuss PrEP, the overall reaction is actually one of disbelief—disbelief that they and everyone else didn’t know about it already.

So why isn’t the world in the know?

Two male friends sitting close and discussing in modern cafe

Slowly but surely, we are getting there. And as I can attest, it’s not an easy topic to discuss. For some, like myself, it takes time to process before realizing how amazingly powerful this little blue pill is. The major fears that many of us had in the beginning have truly been disproven. Study after study has shown it works, and its cutting down on the infection rate. And isn’t that what we really want, long-term?

With PrEP and HIV in more mainstream conversations, the hope is people will get tested more regularly. If they happen to be HIV-positive, they’ll get on medication and use treatment as prevention. If they happen to be negative, they will use PrEP, either by itself or in combination with other forms of prevention.

There are always going to be skeptics—I know, because I was one. But I think if we continue to keep PrEP in conversations, a lot more good can come from it. This isn’t just about sex. I mean, it’s for sure changed my sex life—but it goes beyond that. PrEP has enabled me to be open to serodiscordant relationships. It’s the greatest advancement in recent years to help slow, if not ultimately stop, the spread of HIV.

Learn more about the numbers, facts and realities of PrEP here. Greater Than AIDS also has a database of PrEP providers.