Marketed under the name of Truvada (also known as PrEP, which employs a combination of medications already being used to treat AIDS), the HIV prevention pill does not eliminate, but does dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission between an infected and an uninfected sexual partner.
With blacks comprising nearly half the Americans infected by HIV, this is a story of particular importance to readers of TheRoot.com. We covered the rollout of this medication and will have an article in the near future about early reaction to it in the black community. Are people using it — and if not, why?
If you asked me 25 years ago how people would react when we found a way to prevent HIV infection, I would have predicted dancing in the streets and widespread news coverage. Maybe the underwhelming response is an indication of how far HIV treatment has come in the U.S., with HIV-positive celebrities like Magic Johnson living full and relatively normal lives. Perhaps nothing short of a cure will merit a strong media response. However, for those who cannot afford treatment, AIDS is still a killer, and the public must be informed about methods of preventing its spread.
I have similar thoughts about the at-home HIV test, marketed under the name OraQuick. It produces results in as little as 20 minutes, according to its marketers. Could the privacy of an at-home test boost testing rates and drive down infection rates? Will people trust such a test? TheRoot.com covered the test’s unveiling and will continue to track this story and the factors affecting its adoption. I hope others in the media will, too.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is managing editor of The Root, the leading online source of news and commentary from an African-American perspective. She is a seasoned editor and journalist with a long track record managing online publications including AOL Black Voices NiaOnline.com, which focuses on black women’s interests. She was co-editor of the Nia Guide for Black Women series of books, publisher of Shade magazine, and has worked for Fortune.com’s Small Business website, Dow Jones Newswires and the Asbury Park Press. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.