AIDS Prevention- A New Recommendation
The lead article in the New York Times on May 14 noted that Federal Health officials are recommending that Americans who are at risk for AIDS take a pill daily to prevent infection. The medication is called Truvada and less than 10,000 individuals currently are on the drug. Federal recommendations would increase this to 500,000 people taking the medication.
This is an example of officials reinforcing the lack of responsibility among patients with various illnesses. The recommendation for the use of this drug includes gay men who have sex without using condoms, heterosexuals at risk because of intravenous drugs use or sharing needles, male bisexuals who engage in unprotected sex, and patients who have sex with individuals with known infections. All of these individuals could protect their partners by using condoms when they have sex, but obviously do not do so. Thus, instead of using condoms, they are told to take Truvada which costs $13,000 a year. Though taking Truvada daily is very effective in preventing HIV infections, it would add $6.5 billion to the nation’s health care costs.
Having unprotected sex can also lead to STDs- sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea for both partners if condoms are not used. Should our health care bills be increasing because at risk patients believe they will derive more pleasure having sex without condoms and so do not use them? And aren’t we condoning their actions by our willingness to pay the bills for their medications? Of course, those high-risk patients who are irresponsible enough not to use condoms when they have sex may also neglect taking their pills daily, decreasing the effectiveness of Truvada. In fact, a number of organizations and individuals involved in the prevention of AIDS, doubt whether suggesting a daily pill will have a significant impact on prevention.
To me, the recommendation to prescribe Truvada for those who do not use condoms makes no sense. Though officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be upset that the number of HIV infections has remained steady at 50,000 per year over the last decade because condoms are not being used by at risk patients, paying for them to have unprotected sex is not the way to go.
If people are unwilling to take responsibility for their sexual habits and put other people at risk, perhaps legal avenues should be explored, to fine them or institute some kind of punishment. I don’t want my health care dollars going to support at-risk individuals having unprotected sex.