PrEP debate continues

  • Wednesday October 1, 2014
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PrEP debate continues

PrEP debate continues

Supervisor David Campos stated that every new HIV infection prevented saves $355,000 in lifetime treatment costs, in regards to his recent legislation to provide city funds of around $800,000 to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to residents ["Campos seeks funds for PrEP access," September 25]. Supervisor Scott Wiener supports this legislation.

Should there not be a cost analysis of what other sexually transmitted diseases a person might get if they go on PrEP and start having unprotected sex? Gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV are just a number of STDs you can get. What is the cost for that?

Actually, PrEP is being subversively promoted to justify unprotected sex.

Nowhere in last week's article by Liz Highleyman does it state that PrEP should be used along with other safe-sex practices. Neither were any comments at the recent PrEP forum that she tweeted out.

SF residents have a right to also know if Supervisors Campos or Wiener received any campaign donations from Gilead, the makers of PrEP (Truvada), or their employees.

Before I'm bashed for shaming people, it couldn't be further from the truth. I'm very sex-positive. I'm alarmed by the recent reports in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 26 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that HIV rates among gay men under 25 have risen 22 percent. To me, that constitutes a health crisis. Being a sexually active gay man, I've noticed this trend for many years. Personally, I'd never take PrEP. My safe-sex practices work for me. I fully support the decision to use it as an extra safeguard along with your safe-sex practices but not to justify unprotected sex.

For months I'd see men advertise on their Grindr, Scruff or Adam 4 Adam profiles, "On PrEP, ask me about it." As if this was some new multi-level marketing for a drug company. Recently, a 30-year-old on Scruff told me, "The epidemic wasn't only in the 80's bud & he lived through it." Really, at 30 years old? He also stated, "Advertising an HIV prevention option has bad optics." I recently asked a few people online whether they're using PrEP to justify barebacking and received no answer. Have we as a community not learned anything from the AIDS crisis? There still is no cure for HIV/AIDS.

I feel that we older gay men have a responsibility to younger gay men in sharing the history and keeping them alive and we've let them down. The shame is not talking about it and this issue has gone silent long enough.


John Steen

San Francisco


Unease with story, chorus production

David-Elijah Nahmod's reporting on Tyler's Suite in his article on the San Francisco Gay Men's chorus ["Have brunch with SF Gay Men's Chorus," September 25] brought back some of the same unease I felt after attending the concert itself.

In recounting the Tyler Clementi story the chorus floated ideas sufficiently vague as to be not quite verifiable and omitted many facts but still provided the kind of material that many, if not most, in the audience would conflate into the same erroneous narrative that Mr. Nahmod put into his article.

The suicide of any young person is a tragedy and Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, was and remains a despicable slime ball who invaded Clementi's privacy by using a web cam to spy on him. But contrary to Mr. Nahmod's article there was no video, no online posting, no outing, and no bullying. And the suggestion of any causal link between Ravi's spying and Clementi's suicide is a tenuous one. There were numerous factors in Clementi's life that might have lead to depression and suicide, including his hatred of high school, his inability to make friends, his perception of his mother as rejecting him, and his use of a prescription asthma medication believed to have a potential for producing suicidal ideation.

The story was widely covered in newspapers and other media with especially comprehensive accounts in the New York Times and New Yorker magazine and even in Wikipedia. For Mr. Nahmod to get his facts so blatantly wrong is sloppy journalism, which is bad enough, but to distort the facts of a young man's life and the tragedy of his death for the purpose of making a better story is, in my humble opinion, disrespectful of Clementi himself.


Jerry Thornhill

San Francisco


Health laws will help LGBTs

A big thank you to Governor Jerry Brown for signing Senate Bill 964 on September 25. Wide choice of health care providers matters to all, but in some cases even more for us to have the ability to find knowledgeable specialists who are also culturally welcoming to LGBT people. This new law provides for monitoring of the so-called phantom lists of doctors in the "narrow networks" health insurance companies now offer. For example, Anthem Blue Cross' inability to keep most Sutter and Stanford physicians in its network. Thanks, Jerry. Thanks also state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) for co-sponsoring SB 18, also signed by the governor, to provide assistance to Medi-Cal enrollment for needy Californians of all sexual and gender orientations and preferences. Obamacare was a start. California's leaders and leadership count in making it work for all.


Charlie Spiegel, Esq.

San Francisco