The man who contracted HIV despite taking virus-prevention medication Truvada still believes in the drug

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Last week and for the first time in history, a man on a regular regimen of the HIV-preventing drug Truvada somehow became infected with a rare form of the virus.

One might imagine that the experience might have left the man with negative feelings about Truvada, but in a new interview with Poz magazine, he explains that that's far from the case.

"PrEP’s a calculated risk," Joe, a pseudonym, told the magazine. "It’s important for people to know that there is the possibility as opposed to the fantasy that there have been no recorded infections on PrEP."


In the interview, Joe goes on to explain that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the type of drug that Truvada is classified as, had a definite effect on the way that he lived his life. Specifically, he became much more confident about forgoing condoms because of his commitment to taking the drug properly under his doctor's supervision.

"I was such as big proponent of PrEP that if I was chatting with someone on a hookup site who wanted to use condoms, it was a deal-breaker for me," he described. "I was having sex to enjoy it. And if I was wearing a condom or the other person was wearing a condom, I wouldn’t enjoy it."

In an interview with GawkerJoe's doctor, David Knox, was careful to point out that what made Joe's specific case so attention-grabbing was the fact that his adherence to his PrEP regimen was basically undeniable.

"[T]his was the first case where we rigorously documented several lines of evidence pointing to the fact that this patient was adherent to the medication," Knox told the site. "While we think it’s possible that this has happened in the past, that’s the reason why this case got so much traction in the medical community."


Both Dr. Knox and Joe go on to reference the multiple, large-scale PrEP studies that have shown in most cases (when taken correctly and consistently), drugs like Truvada can lower the chances of someone contracting HIV by as much as 90%. In Joe's case, he was exposed to a rare strain of HIV that was resistant to the two anti-retroviral drugs that make Truvada.

Though Joe's infection was an unfortunate, highly unlikely occurrence, Knox said, the swiftness with which he addressed his health could ultimately be a benefit to long-term HIV research.


"The silver lining of this case is this guy’s very invested in his sexual health and testing for STIs, so we did discover this infection very, very early—probably within six weeks of being infected," Knox elaborated. "It makes him a good candidate in the future for cure research, as he might have limited virus in his peripheral reservoir."

From Joe's perspective, he understood the risks associated with the drug and ultimately feels as if they didn't fail him so much as that particular sexual encounter did.


"If I had to do it all over again, I would still go on PrEP," Joe said. "I just wouldn’t have sex with that specific person.