On January 4, 1982, some 80 gay men met up in Larry Kramer's Manhattan apartment to form what would become the Gay Men's Health Crisis (now GMHC). Over 30 years later, and in the same apartment (god bless rent control) Kramer hosted another meeting, representing not only how much work had been done to fight the epidemic, but also how much work was left to do.
Over a dinner of boeuf bourguignon, Kramer, Jim Eigo, Matt Ebert, Peter Staley, and Plus magazne contributor James Krellenstein, poured the wine and spilled the T on PrEP— and they took Gilead to task for its "near monopolies in drugs that treat and prevent HIV."
Kramer had previously taken a strong stance—the only stance he knows—against Truvada, when he said anyone taking it must have "rocks in their heads."
“There’s something to me cowardly about taking Truvada instead of using a condom," Kramer told The New York Times. "You’re taking a drug that is poison to you, and it has lessened your energy to fight, to get involved, to do anything.”
Well, Kramer has apparently come around thanks to this historical kiki. Staley shared the statement he and his fellow activists drew up, presumably after some truths and the chocolate mousse had been served:
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.