I am thrilled that the comments I made in my cover interview for OUT 100 have generated a spirited dialogue about HIV/AIDS -- and the advent of a whole new class of preventative life saving medication. I am less thrilled that they were almost entirely misconstrued. Perhaps I could have been more articulate -- but my comments were never meant to be incendiary or judgmental.
Sure, there's some unhelpful finger-wagging here that won't win Quinto any brownie points with many young gay men, but can anyone deny that complacency is now a major driver of new HIV infections in this group? Quinto has learned his history, with evident respect, which puts him light-years ahead of most gay men his age.
As gay and bisexual men, it can be overwhelming -- and in some cases, downright exhausting -- to keep HIV at the front of our minds and on the tip of our tongues. But talking about it, with a friend, a doctor or a potential partner, can ease our anxieties and potentially change our thinking and our actions for the better.
I recently decided to be public about my use of PrEP in order to raise awareness about this relatively new tool for preventing HIV. It's important to encourage people at risk for HIV to talk to their medical providers about all the tools and methods available for preventing infection, including PrEP, and to choose the methods that are best for them.
If you make an informed decision to practice barebacking, then so be it. I can't say I will never do the same. However, short-term pleasure, a sense of belonging, and the excitement of abandoning homonormative sociosexual practices cannot be divorced from either a willful rejection of long-term health or a romanticized concept of what HIV infection leads to.
The new CDC guidelines build on a review of the data from several studies in recent years that showed that HIV-uninfected individuals who take specific antiretroviral medications -- a practice known as pre-exposure chemoprophylaxis (aka "PrEP") -- could significantly lower their risk of becoming infected.
Fighting amongst ourselves does nothing to advance the discussion and bring greater clarity to ending HIV. MIchael Weinstein's comments about Truvada being a "party drug" may have been flippant and imprecise, but in that sense he is no guiltier than those who flatly promote PrEP as "90- to 99-percent effective" without clarifying that such rates of risk reduction are hypothetical.