In recent years, the global AIDS establishment has become fixated on medical approaches to HIV prevention. The success of antiretroviral therapies and new clinical trials on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have transformed the field, and “Treatment as prevention” is now promoted by the US PEPFAR, UNAIDS and the WHO.
The prospect of ending the HIV epidemic with a simple pill is seductive – but falsely so.
Fuelled by disparity and discrimination, HIV slams communities on the margins of society. Gay men have experienced this since the beginning of the epidemic, yet the medical establishment continues to advocate for chemical “quick fixes” to an exceedingly complex social problem. We cannot let these medical – albeit important – scientific advances distract us from what social science researchers have been telling us for years: the roots of this epidemic lie in the lack of health and human rights for gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in the developed and developing world.
Fortunately, just as we did at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, our communities are taking the lead in tackling these fundamental challenges. As digital technologies become integral to our lives, they have become equally central to innovative HIV education, prevention and care efforts. These technologies enable us to work together in ways never before possible, offering unprecedented opportunities to tackle the many barriers that make our communities vulnerable to HIV.