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January 20, 2016

AHF's Philosophy on PrEP: When You're In a Hole, Dig Deeper

LOS ANGELES—It seems just days ago—12 days, to be exact—since AVN called out AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) for bashing an ad airing in Australia funded by Public Health Solutions, Connected Health Solutions (both NY-area non-profits) and Gilead Pharmaceuticals that promoted the daily use of Truvada, Gilead's proven HIV "vaccine" which, if taken daily, prevents the user from contracting HIV. AVN pointed out that despite AHF's claims that the ad was promoting Truvada as a "party drug" that could be taken any time the user thought he might find himself in a sexual situation where he is not sure of his partner's HIV status, in fact, as evidenced by, among other things, the reminder on the user's smart phone (see screen-grab at left), the ad was doing exactly the opposite: Encouraging at-risk men to take Truvada on a daily basis to avoid infection. Today, however, AHF has doubled down on its insane analysis of the ad, and gone a step further: It has sent a letter to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Acting Director of the Food and Drug Administration, claiming that the ad in question, titled "I LIke to Party," "promot[es] situational use of its AIDS treatment, Truvada, for PrEP, misleading viewers into believing that Truvada is safe and effective for use on a situational basis, despite knowing that the drug is not FDA approved for such off-label use." See? That's the sort of horseshit you can throw when you've got several hundred million dollars in tax-free donations to play around with. As AVN pointed out here, not only has the "star" of the ad set a reminder on his phone to take his PrEP, he's also seen pocketing a small bag of pills (one of which might be purple-colored Truvada) as he picks up his keys and prepares to go party. "FDA labeling for Truvada as PrEP is very clear: the drug is to be taken daily and used in conjunction with other safer sex practices, such as condoms, and not on an intermittent basis as the Gilead-financed ad suggests," claimed AHF president Michael Weinstein in yesterday's press release. The release also claims that a story by Queensland Pride magazine's Andrew Shaw published on Australia's Gay News Network, titled "New US PrEP Ads Target Men Who Like to Party," supports AHF's claim that the ad promotes intermittent use of Truvada, but in fact, that article does nothing of the sort. "The new spot is specifically directed at men who may be at high risk but feel shamed by the social baggage attached to taking Truvada, the only form of PrEP currently approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration," the article states, then goes on to quote ad creator Kenny Neal Shults as saying, "[W]e wanted to reach men whose sexual and recreational drug behaviours both put them at a greater risk for both contracting HIV and being stigmatized for even considering going on PrEP.” Only someone who was adamantly opposed to the use of PrEP (which, after all, might someday cut into AHF's funding sources if it becomes widely used) could interpret the Shaw article as opining that the ad recommends non-daily use of PrEP. Hence, AHF's statement in its letter to Dr. Ostroff that, "In contravention of statute and regulations, Gilead launched an ad campaign to mislead viewers into believing that Truvada is safe and effective for use on a situational basis despite knowing that the drug is not approved for such use. Consequently, the ad campaign constitutes impermissible off-label promotion, and we urge the FDA to take immediate action to (1) require Gilead to cease and desist all such off-label promotion; (2) require Gilead to publically correct the misinformation disseminated by the ad campaign; and (3) impose any sanctions permitted by law," is pure crap. Perhaps AHF's donors might want to take note of the misinformation AHF is spreading in order, apparently, to ensure that there are more and more HIV patients that AHF can get paid to treat.

 
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