Stopping HIV: The Truvada Revolution

2015, Health  -   14 Comments
Ratings: 6.47/10 from 30 users.

Since the onset of the AIDS pandemic in 1981, medical researchers from all over the world have been searching for a means to prevent and cure the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This VICE documentary introduces viewers to Truvada, a medication that may be the first effective tool beyond condoms in preventing the spread of HIV.

The filmmakers speak with several activists and medical researchers beginning with Damon L. Jacobs, a proud advocate for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). The PrEP approach to prevention involves HIV-negative individuals taking anti-HIV medications in an effort to reduce their risk of contraction should they come into contact with the virus. Leading PrEP drug Truvada combines two existing medications - Tenofovir and Emtricitabine - ordinarily used to treat those already infected. When the FDA approved Truvada as a PrEP option Jacobs expected it would garner far more attention than it did. Disappointed but inspired, he took it upon himself to educate others.

Jacobs invites viewers into his quarterly medical screening with Dr. Howard Grossman, the former director of the American Academy of HIV Medication who has been in the field since the dawn of the pandemic. The audience is walked through the PrEP exam, which involves a mouth swab and blood work to test kidney function and for STIs. Grossman also keeps tabs on potential Truvada side effects such as loss of bone density, decrease in kidney function, and gastrointestinal upset. He notes these side effects often go away quickly if they are experienced at all, and highlights the overall benefit of patients coming in more regularly for STI and HIV testing, which not only keeps patients on top of their sexual health but enables a more open dialogue about sex between patient and doctor.

The importance of education and open dialogue are common themes throughout Stopping HIV: The Truvada Revolution, which emphasizes the negative impact of judgmental attitudes towards sex as well as disparities in health care based on race and financial status. Representatives from New York's AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Harlem United are just a few of the interview subjects that help shed light on the current state of HIV treatment in the United States in this frank and honest short film.

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14 Comments / User Reviews

  1. bobby

    here's an idea....abstinence and celibacy.

  2. Joe smith

    I think everyone is forgetting that A: Everyone has a right to do WHOM and what they want. If Joe Smith wants to have multiple sex partners than so be it. B: ALL medications have side effects, they seemed to have stated the major ones. C: If cost is a concern there is ALWAYS a way with grants; county funding and drug assistance programs to help either pay in full OR decrease the cost of the medications. At very least there is a hope that they have come up with a medication. Yes, I can see compliance as an issue for sure BUT if you wanna play then you obviously know what the possible consequence could be. I have worked with the HIV community/drug abuse patients for years. It is a damn shame that it and sex itself are a stigma still. If Americans would be more open to things a lot of issues would not have such a stigma. Mental health, HIV and drug abuse all.....STIGMAS still in this day and age.

  3. Suna Ronginaru

    HIV=AIDS is a monumental scam!

    Looking at Freddie Mercury's last video, it's hard to tell the different between death by AIDS and AZT poisoning!

  4. Jonathan Roseland

    Would unlimited, unprotected risk-free sex be worth $1400/monthly to you?

    1. bluetortilla

      Hard to tell if you're taking a poll, think it's prohibitive, or a bargain. Seems the rich will get first pick at just about anything and that the doctors in this doc serving them are raking in a bundle.
      Actually not at all. The fact is, I don't consider myself a prude or a moralist but if you're talking about casual sex with multiple partners as a lifestyle, can you tell what's so great about that? Whatever one's orientation, it seems very unhealthy to me on many levels; psychological, spiritual, and physical. My opinion anyway.

      If sex is just for fun, people get objectified and dehumanized. People start to go for looks, aesthetics, youth, and become callous or indifferent toward the inner soul of a person. I can't see, except for adolescents, where sex without love is ever a good thing. I realize promiscuity is not the topic here, but you have brought it up intentionally or not. I'm not sure if you're arguing that it's a good value or prohibitive. Obviously only the rich can afford it now. It's discriminatory against the poor and middle class. Where's the generic equivalent? The fact that we're talking about money for protection against an STD is pretty unsavory and brings into the commercialization of sex.
      Besides we're only talking about protection only against HIV; that is if the drug even works. Sex is still not risk free when it comes to other diseases.

  5. Michael

    A bit of a long advertisement for the Pharma industry. They forget to mention one tiny little detail. One month of Truvada ( 30 pills ) sets you back 1400 USD. That's more than a full month salary for some people. Just a tiny detail the journalists forgot to mention. Gilead Sciences bottom line is well fattened by this infomercial of VICE.

    1. Fabien L

      Indeed, also a misrepresentation of the side effects. There is a very long list on drugs dot com that includes fatigue, rash, depression, urinary tract infection, chest pain, insomnia, diarrhea, pneumonia, pharyngitis, hyperglycemia and anorexia.

  6. Oscar

    '...but enables a more open dialogue about sex between patient and doctor.'
    Hm... Right... Uhuh... :P

  7. Phred Blunt

    I would have thought by now, everyone would know that so-called HIV is a massive hoax/scam...alongside STDs. Pointless watching this nonsense.

    Don't bother to reply to this comment.

    1. bluetortilla

      Don't post a comment if you don't want a reply.

      STD's are diseases just like any other. Polio and smallpox were major non-STD scourges. Were those scams? Today, cancer I suppose is the number one killer. It's definitely real. Syphilis, almost always an STD, left untreated, is a nasty killer. Think back before there was a cure for it- people were left with a devastating disease that could not be cured and could very well end up facing a death of insanity and blindness. Though there is now a cure, even today it still happens when people don't seek treatment!

      Why would anyone think that no disease would use sexual activity as a route of transmission? That is just ignorant.

    2. Fabien L

      Pretty sure he is not serious or delusional, first it was NASA can't send rockets in space on the Pluto documentary, now this, next he will say the moon doesn't exist on a moon doc or propose that the earth really is flat.

  8. bluetortilla

    Well Vice blew it on this one. It would have been great to have heard some solid evidence and science on how a drug can inhibit HIV from growing in the bloodstream, but unfortunately we don't learn anything. So not much to say.
    You can get all kinds of other STD's from multiple sex partners of course, and none of them are fun either.
    And flipped fried eggs are called 'over easy' by the way. I just add that to illustrate the poor quality of content in this documentary.

    1. Oscar

      Would have been nice to seem som evidence that HIV causes AIDS and preferably included in the evidence the correlation to the lifestyles of the patients. So far all the evidence I have ever seen were the numbers from the CDC, published by someone who thinks that AIDS is not caused by HIV. Those numbers show that at least 10% of all AIDS patients never had HIV and that 100% of the patients, including those with HIV had a destructive lifestyle, with harddrugs and/or malnutricon. I believe those numbers, so either HIV needs a destructive lifestyle to cause AIDS or maybe the lifestyle and HIV can both cause AIDS or HIV can not cause AIDS. However the case, HIV is not the (only) cause for AIDS and untill I see some real evidence either way, I will not support anyone in the matter and will advice AIDS-patients in my vicinity to not take meds for it, since the meds WILL kill you guaranteed and I don't see why HIV can cause AIDS when people without those lifestyles don't get HIV or AIDS even when thousands of businessmen have unsafe sex with heroine adicts. At least a few of them should have died from AIDS, even with a chance of one in a thousand to get HIV. Things just don't add up and besides the CDC study from almost 3 decades ago that show that AIDS might have a different or more causes, I haven't seen any evidence about what causes what. 3 decades and all I see are correlations and a bunch of loudmouths telling us to just believe that HIV causes AIDS, while the evidence clearly tells a different story.

    2. bluetortilla

      Well, clearly the relationship between HIV and AIDS is one open to debate and investigation. However, this documentary was not even talking about that- it was stating that this drug (really two generic drugs I assume in one patented pill) will stop an HIV infection. But it does not give any evidence or explain how these drugs work.
      In any case the virus itself seems real enough. In my line of work I have to get tested for it fairly regularly and if I test antigen positive I will get barred from that job. I understand how irrational and bigoted that is but there is nothing I can do about such regulations other than work in other countries that don't have them. I imagine that someday the issue will be dropped in nearly every country. But I also imagine that if I engaged in unprotected sex with members of high risk groups for HIV the chances are good that sooner or later I will test HIV positive too. Now, whatever exactly HIV is I'm not sure either (you know doubt know more than me), but it must be real, and the infections are highest among certain groups, and are limited to those groups (unless this all made up in some master conspiracy). That's separate from the HIV/AIDS relationship issue. There is what I think of as undeniable evidence that transmission occurs only through sex and/or blood.
      The stigma against STD's is very high. One country I know will, in general, grant you a visa to work if you have 'passed' the Hep B virus (are no longer infectious), but not if you had syphilis say when you were 17 and had gotten it cured decades ago. That antigen lasts for life and that particular country will ban on the fact that you had gotten it even once in your life. So I'm in a position, if I want to continue the work I do, where I cannot even have protected sex with condoms with the girl next door without at least some anxiety about STD's. I don't believe in 'freedom from fear' regarding STD's, but I do want 'freedom from bigotry' when it comes to diseases that are of no threat to anyone.
      Well, I went way off track too. Sorry. But it's still a lousy documentary.