This summer I took the PUBH 725 course at the UNC School of Public Health that dealt with HIV topics. While I work on HIV topics often for my public health research job, I still found the class quite interesting.
The lectures have been posted publicly for anyone to view. If you are interested in HIV I think you’ll enjoy these videos. If you have time for only one video, I would watch the Myron Cohen video from Week 5. The week 2 videos are also quite interesting, especially the one on mental health.
In addition to treating patients who have HIV, you might be surprised to hear that Truvada can also be given to HIV-negative people in an attempt to prevent them from getting HIV. An HIV-negative patient takes the medication daily. This strategy is called “PrEP”, short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. "Pre-Exposure" obviously means done before someone is exposed to HIV; “Prophylaxis” is a protective measure to prevent disease. For example, condoms are prophylactic. So PrEP is a drug given before exposure to prevent someone from getting HIV. (On the other side there is PEP: Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. Given to someone after exposure, commonly to medical providers who stick themselves with a needle; that is an occupational exposure.)
The public health community had expectations that those at high-risk for HIV would use it, especially gay and bisexual men (MSM). But uptake among MSM has been low according to the NY Times. Some reasons the article mentions for low uptake:
* Stigmatization of the drug. * Unawareness by consumers of the option. * Cost * Potential side effects * Lackadaisical attitude towards HIV
Of worry to me, PrEP does send mixed messages to consumers. Some might see it as a reason not to need condoms. (I don’t, but I don’t speak for the entire public health community.) You have to take PrEP everyday for it to be effective; if you don’t, and you don’t use condoms because you feel you are safe, you are obviously at risk for infection.