|l to r. James Krellenstein, Peter Staley, Jim Eigo, Larry Kramer and Matt Ebert|
A little AIDS history was made Monday night -- a uniting of science and anger to get our juices flowing again for the fight ahead. It felt like old times, with voices raised, gossip shared, wine poured, and love filling the room. We even wrote a statement! For the record, James's delicious home-cooked meal: butternut squash soup, boeuf bourguignon, mujadara, homemade bread, and chocolate mousse with rasberries and cream. Here's the statement. PLEASE SHARE WIDELY!
The PrEP Dinner
December 7, 2015
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. 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 judgement.
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 healthcare, 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.
We, South African advocates, are alarmed to see the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an American-based chain clinic and pharmacy that has led the charge in PrEP Denialism, participate at the Durban Aids Conference. The AHF has consistently opposed PrEP using faulty science and fear mongering and has failed to accept extensive research that has clearly and repeatedly shown PrEP to be safe and efficacious. South Africa can only allow evidence-based health policy and implementation. Denialism thrown in the face of facts and research can never be allowed again. As South Africans, we know too well the human cost of misinformation about HIV and of waiting too long to implement life-saving, evidence-based HIV interventions.
The press waited until Oct. 15 , 1982 -- 17 months after the first reported AIDS cases -- to ask President Reagan's press secretary about the "gay plague." By that time, there had been 593 reported cases in the U.S., and 243 deaths.
Q: Is the President being briefed on the Ebola outbreak in Africa? And will it be addressed at the Africa summit and/or alter the Africa summit in any way?
MR. SCHULTZ: Yes, we continue -- well, no, it will not alter the summit, but we do continue to monitor the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea, in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria closely. The President is indeed receiving regular updates, including speaking with his Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco as early as yesterday before departing Washington.
The U.S. government, including the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, USAID and the Department of Defense, continue to provide a range of support and assistance to those countries and multinational organizations responding to the outbreak.
This includes the provision of personal protective equipment and other essential supplies, public health messaging and technical expertise. We've actually been engaged in this outbreak since March.
Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement -- the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
MR. SPEAKES: What's AIDS?
Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
Q: No, I don't.
MR. SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.
Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President --
MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.
Q: Does the President, does anybody in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there's been any --
Q: Nobody knows?
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping --
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he's had no -- (laughter) -- no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
Q: The President doesn't have gay plague, is that what you're saying or what?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn't say that.
Q: Didn't say that?
MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn't you stay there? (Laughter.)
Q: Because I love you, Larry, that's why. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKES: Oh, I see. Just don't put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
Q: Oh, I retract that.
MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.
Q: It's too late.
"The main news is that in the PARTNER Study so far there have been no transmissions within couples from a partner with an undetectable viral load, in what was estimated as 16,400 occasions of sex in the gay men and 14,000 in the heterosexuals."