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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 11, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 50
End PrEP profiteering, activists say
Section One
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End PrEP profiteering, activists say

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Meeting in the same apartment where Gay Men's Health Crisis was formed 33 years ago - before AIDS even had a name - five of the country's most prominent HIV/AIDS activists met to discuss the state of HIV health care and the need for access to antiretroviral medications.

Larry Kramer, Jim Eigo, Peter Staley, Matt Ebert, and James Krellenstein then issued a statement on December 8, denouncing the 'abusive pricing' and 'profiteering' which continue to put the cost of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) beyond the means of much of the world.

'We - AIDS activists, new and old, aged 24 to 80 - have just broken bread in the same apartment where GMHC was formed, coming together for a lively discussion on how to reduce HIV infections among gay men and trans women,' the statement said.

'Although we may not see eye-to-eye on every issue we debated tonight, we all agree that Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective at protecting a person from HIV infection. While PrEP isn't for everyone, any individual who thinks they are at risk of getting HIV should have easy access to it, without judgment.

'We are fed up with Gilead's abusive pricing of its near-monopolies in drugs that treat and prevent HIV. Truvada as PrEP was not their idea and came to market based on research they didn't pay for. Gilead's PrEP profiteering must end. Full access to lifesaving drugs has been a hallmark of our movement, and we will join with AIDS activists across America and around the world to double down on this push for health equity.

'PrEP, along with condoms, TasP (Treatment as Prevention), and better access to health care, are now essential public health tools in lowering HIV infections among gay men and trans women. We must use every tool necessary to help them - and to help all those at risk - stop this virus, once and for all. ACT UP, Fight Back, Fight AIDS.'

Kramer is in many ways the godfather of HIV/AIDS activism, having founded Gay Men's Health Crisis in 1982, and then - dissatisfied with what he believed was the group's conservative approach - going on to create ACT UP five years later.

Eigo was also founding member of ACT UP, and Staley too joined the group after founding TAG, the Treatment Action Group. Ebert is a journalist, actor, artist, and activist, and Krellerstein is a biophysics student and public health activist.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most private insurance plans now cover PrEP, but for those without insurance the annual cost of Truvada can run from $8,000 to $14,000. Although the World Health Organization recommends PrEP medication for all men who have sex with men, it is not widely available in many countries.

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