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This is called “treatment as prevention.” All these new approaches to safer sex, Garner notes, have affected how negative and positive men relate to each other because they reduce a key emotional obstacle to love: fear.
“That impacts how fearful they are of the sex that they’re having, how fearful they are of one another as well as the stigma that comes with the idea of someone being potentially infectious,” Garner says.
Until recently, advocating for Pr EP has been an uphill battle.
Notably, Michael Weinstein, the head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has discouraged it due to his belief that it will decrease the use of condoms as well as his fear that gay men will not take it as prescribed, and he has branded it a “party drug.” The phrase “Truvada whore” has also come into use among gay men as a slut-shaming label akin to the scarlet letter pinned on Hester Prynne, although recently gay and HIV awareness activists and Pr EP takers have reclaimed the phrase much like young people did with the word “queer” 20 years ago.
Recent developments, including recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have softened this stigma, particularly in light of the recent CDC report announcing that the annual number of new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 and 24 increased by a staggering 132.5 percent between 20.
WHO estimates that Pr EP use by gay men over the next 10 years could reduce worldwide HIV transmission by 20 to 25 percent.
Garner, who has been positive for 18 years, has seen this impact in his own love life.