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Today, Stekler is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington and her attention is now focused on another promising new drug regimen: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as Pr EP.Similar to birth control, Pr EP consists of a daily pill (dispensed under the trade name Truvada) taken by a HIV-negative person, usually in combination with regular clinic visits for testing and counseling.Since the advent of HAART, most HIV-positive people who are on it are able to suppress their viral load to undetectable levels, drastically reducing the likelihood of transmission.Emerging research indicates that when a partner is undetectable, their risk of transmission is “no more than four percent.” Now, with the advent of Pr EP, that risk can be mitigated even further.“I wanted to feel more comfortable with my decision not to use condoms,” he says.“The public health party line is, ‘use condoms all the time whenever you’re having anal sex,’” says Stekler.But, she adds, “There’s the party line, and then there’s reality….If taken daily, Pr EP provides a 99 percent reduction in the likelihood of transmission, according to one study.Another study estimates that by the year 2020, the treatment could reduce infections in the United States by 70 percent.
Rarely heard of in the gay community just three years ago, it is now a frequent discussion.
Known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, the drug protocol was a major breakthrough and perhaps the biggest turning point in the epidemic since the identification of the virus.
Within just a few years, HIV went from being a death sentence to a manageable condition.
In 1981, the first official report ever published on the newly emerging HIV virus set the tone for sex education — and arguably contributed to the stigma that many in the gay community face.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) detailed the cases of five young gay men who were hospitalized with serious infections.