This new documentary short/PSA from Fusion TV has just come out featuring San Francisco-based gay porn models Max Cameron and Drew Sebastian. Max is HIV-negative, while Drew, his boyfriend of a year and a half, is HIV-positive, and Max has, like some small percentage of urban gay men in the U.S., opted to take PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a.k.a. the drug Truvada, which has been shown to be potentially more effective than condoms in reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
Max and Drew/Andy have day jobs as a special ed teacher and chef, respectively, but they also moonlight as models for Treasure Island Media the same local porn concern that has made headlines for its aversion to condoms and some subsequent fines from the California workplace health authority, Cal/OSHA.
This new doc talks to UCSF medical professor Robert Grant who took part in the clinical trial that led to Truvada's being approved by the FDA in 2012 for the purposes of preventing HIV in sexually active, HIV-negative men (it showed more than a 99% effectiveness rate). And he likens the current fears and taboo around Truvada use to the early days of the birth control pill in the 1960s.
They also get a quote from the pharmaceutical company Gilead, the makers of Truvada, who say they have no immediate plans to market the drug for this use, but they're instead reaching out to healthcare providers on an educational basis. And they tour around Dolores Park on a sunny afternoon asking random people if they've heard of Truvada or PreP.
Anecdotally, I already know of a few people who are taking the drug at the urging of their doctors, because they'd rather not use condoms in their sex lives. But according to Gilead, only 1,400 HIV-negative gay men have sought prescriptions so far, despite the rates of unsafe sex and new HIV infections continuing to rise.
Of course, effective use of the drug means remembering to take it every day, and nothing is without side effects. WebMD lists Truvada's downsides as "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, trouble sleeping, back pain, or change in the color of skin on your palms or soles of your feet may occur."