Episode 62 – Interview: Damon Jacobs, HIV Prevention (PrEP)

Episode 62

(Air Date: MARCH 19, 2015)

This episode is going to seem a bit out of the ordinary.

Today Ben is interviewing Damon L. Jacobs (Psychotherapist & PrEP Educator) about HIV Prevention.

Did you know that we now have a pill that can actually PREVENT HIV infection by up to 99% when taken daily?

If you didn’t know…   Now you do.  After listening to today’s episode, you will be an expert on Truvada, which is known as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).  You will be able to talk to your friends and loved ones about how it prevents HIV infection, how to actually get access to it, and pretty much any other questions you might have — they’ll be answered in this episode.

This is my personal plea with each of you to take on sharing this information with the people you care about, however you choose to do that:  share this episode with them, have a conversation with them, etc.

Here are some helpful links:

www.DamonLJacobs.com   (Damon Jacobs’ Website)
www.Prepolicious.org   (A centralized location on the web for information about PrEP)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrEPFacts/ (a Facebook discussion group about PrEP)

Damon invites any and all questions and can be reached at:

Some useful links/studies:

PLAY: Spirochete by Arnold Sungaard (about the controversy about the cure for syphilis)
VIDEO: Honey LaBronx speaks out about PrEP (*NOTE: Some of this information is now outdated — please see this episode or the above links for updated info.)
STUDY: The IPERGAY Study (France) which looks at new possible dosage methods for Truvada)
STUDY: The Partners Trial which follows serodiscordant couples (where one is HIV positive, and one is HIV negative)

Just for fun…  let’s remember that throughout history, a cure for syphilis was considered controversial because some thought that people who engaged in sex outside of marriage should suffer the consequences, even if they were fatal.  Even SEAT BELTS were controversial when first introduced, because people thought they would encourage speeding!  Also controversial was birth control…  condoms… and of course now PrEP/Truvada.



Please be in touch and let us know what you thought of this episode!

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Michael Harren
Kelly Huffine

5 thoughts on “Episode 62 – Interview: Damon Jacobs, HIV Prevention (PrEP)”

  1. I heard truvada uses non vegan ingredients in the manufacture. It seems like most gay “vegans ” I speak with don’t care which is pretty disheartening. Do you have any info on this?

    1. Sure. Here’s my info on this. And before I continue, I owe it to you to let you know I am going to be frank with you in my answer, because considering that 50,000 people will get HIV this year, this issue is too serious for me to sugar coat things.

      We don’t live in a perfect world. We don’t have the LUXURY of saying no to HIV treatment or prevention options because they contain non-vegan ingredients.

      What would you say to someone who has HIV and decides to go on treatment so they can stay alive? Would you tell them “Well, that’s not vegan, so…”?

      I really don’t think you would.

      It’s the same here. Someone who considers themselves at-risk for HIV and wants to prevent an infection should have the freedom to exercise the same option without worrying about animal ingredients.

      The truth is, so long as animal ingredients are cheaper, people will tend to use them.

      How do we turn that around?

      Not by ignoring our health outright and saying “I refuse to protect myself against HIV because that’s not vegan” (seriously — if we want to be taken seriously as vegans — can you IMAGINE how irrational we’re gonna make veganism look to non-vegans?). But instead we can fight this by being vegan everywhere ELSE like in our diet, in the clothes we wear, in the body care product we use, in the things and events we choose to support or not.

      The less people consuming animals, the more expensive it will cost to produce animal products, and the less viable animal derived ingredients will be to pharmaceutical labs.

      I hope that makes sense. And I do get that this is an honest question on your part, but there are several things to be responsible for in the way you’re asking this question:

      You say “but most gay vegans I speak with don’t care which is pretty disheartening.”

      — First, HIV is not a gay disease. I’m sure you know that, and I’m sure you didn’t intend to make it sound that way, but you must be responsible for how you worded that. That is a dangerous and expensive mistake to be made.

      — To assert that “they don’t care” and that it’s “disheartening” is:
      A) A judgement on your part (saying it’s “disheartening” that they don’t care, asserting that they SHOULD care, and making them wrong for not caring.
      B) Insensitive. Your comment seems to suggest that they SHOULD care about the animal ingredients in Truvada, AS MUCH as they should care about their own health. Again, you may not have intended it this way, or even stopped to consider it that way, but the way you worded your question, it leaves the reader with the idea that these people SHOULD care.

      Let me explain “not caring” another way.

      If my mother were dying of a heart attack — and the only way to save her life was to perform surgery on her — but the operation was developed through animal testing and even if it included medication or fluids that came from an animal…

      …I would most certainly tell the doctor “I DON’T CARE!!! Save my mom!!!”

      And I’m sure you would make the same decision. And if you wouldn’t, then I too would find it disheartening.

      Thank you for allowing me to be blunt in my answer to your question — and thank you for asking it.

      1. I find this to be quite hypocritical. We have condoms (there are vegan condoms) that vegans can and have used for decades. I know HIV effects all communities, but Im speaking specifically about gay vegans, which is why I mentioned gay vegans by name. Theres also a huge difference between taking an emergency drug to save a life vs prevention by making wise sexual choices….AND the fact is that we DO have a choice! If we can afford to buy coconut ice cream, vegan fake meats etc…we can afford some vegan condoms, and use common sense and discretion. Im all for sexual freedom, but why should sexual freedom, among those privileged enough to have and make lifestyle and food choices come at at the expense of harming and killing animals? Why are you vegan? If you had the animals in front of you who are used in making this product, could you kill them, simply so you could have sex without condoms? (I know some folks use prep as its intended…WITH condoms) but most folks Ive met do not. I’ve been vegan for 17 years. Ive been a slut, Ive done sex work…..and Im still hiv negative. Ive had a condom break, yes. There are emergency drugs one can take if that happens….which at the very least, even if they use animal ingredients, would only be used in an emergency like that. Its called Harm reduction. The communities who are most greatly effected by HIV are generally not vegan, with some except on a small scale, because as a community there arent many vegans in general. Personally….and I know you and most folks will disagree, as is your right….I believe in natural/holistic medicine. I practice prevention, and if I were to get say…cancer…..I would treat it naturally. I have many good friends who were on their death bed, now alive and well, cancer free, when all western medicine failed them. Im not saying everyone should do it that way…Im just saying we have choices that do work. Ive also met folks who had HIV, who treated themselves holistically, and to this day, many years after exposure, remain with no detectable virus. I find it very sad that the gay vegan community wouldnt even advocate FOR truvada and other drugs to be made with non animal ingredients at the very least. While its true the world isnt perfect……and we cant avoid everything…I must point out, that same argument is used by carnists as to why they cant go vegan at all. Touche my dear, touche!

        1. bigfatvegans

          While I appreciate the enthusiasm and time you put into your response, your argument is full of too many assumptions for me to be able to give you an intelligent response. Suffice it to say the assumptions you make about safer sex practices would assume that the person in question is not allergic to the materials used in a condom, has the wherewithal to plan in advance for how their sex is going to go down, is lucid and sober and has the self control enough to know how to stop in the moment and insist they or their partner wear a condom — and happens to have a vegan condom handy…. There are just too many assumptions here to really make a valid counter point. This just leaves me with the impression that you didn’t listen to the interview with an open mind and REALLY take to heart the points being made here.

          I really mean that. Listen — NOT from a stance of “Here’s what I’m gonna say in response to that point.” But actually listen. And GET what’s being said. And a second reminder — NOT from a place of “Okay… how am I going to counter their argument as soon as they’re done talking?”

          Cuz the way you’re going about trying to have a dialogue here — you are not accomplishing what I would assume you are hoping to accomplish.

          I’m just gonna say you do you, boo. Glad you’re vegan. Glad you’re staying healthy.

          For the record, “touché” is a word used to acknowledge that the other person in a debate has made a very good or clever point, often at your expense. So I’m confused that you’d end your counterpoint with “Touche my dear, touche!”

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