Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

Conversation without Barriers

by Justin Snow
Saturday Jul 14, 2012

When it comes to the new frontier of safe sex, condoms may be on their way out and pills on their way in. With major advances in the effectiveness of antiretroviral medication, scientists are closer than ever to creating a pill that could prevent transmission of HIV between partners.

But with the stigma that still surrounds HIV and bareback sex - meaning sex without condoms - what might this new frontier look like? That's one of the questions Bruce Maeder of the Northwest AIDS Education and Training Center and Todd Hull of the Lifelong AIDS Alliance hope to answer during their Gay Men's Health Summit presentation, ''Bareback to the Future?''

The workshop promises to be a spirited discussion about ''barebacking, condoms and HIV prevention at the dawn of the 21st century.''

According to Maeder, there is a disconnect between what men are really doing in the bedroom and what prevention's response is and should be.

''We want to discuss what the disconnect is in what the community is doing and where prevention is,'' Maeder says.

For Maeder's home city of Seattle, parties at sex clubs have left some flummoxed when it comes to safer sex and prevention.

''What's the role of public health in that conversation?'' Maeder asks. ''Public health has struggled to find a good response to that.''

Hull adds that the idea for the presentation came from recent breakthroughs in medical HIV prevention, including a particular drug used in HIV/AIDS treatment called Truvada, which could soon be approved by the FDA for preventing HIV infection.

''One reason we wanted to have this conversation was to generate ideas and discussion,'' Hull says. Although Hull admits that there is no new method that is absolutely effective in preventing HIV infection, he sees new tools as a step forward to be used with other preventative measures.

''Personally, I think medication would be used in addition to the more traditional methods,'' Hull says. ''I see them as some new tools in the tool box of HIV prevention.''

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