PrEP was once spurned as a "party drug" by the head of a prominent AIDS organization. Today, reality and YouTube stars are lining up to endorse it.
Bob the Drag Queen, the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, released an educational video Sunday about the daily treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, which if taken daily is up to 99 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission; Truvada is the only drug approved so far for PrEP. The day also marked the 35th anniversary of the reports of the first cases of AIDS.
In the clip, the gay drag performer explained PrEP's effectiveness with his signature sass and humor. He also directed viewers to GetPrep.GreaterThan.org for more information on finding a knowledgeable health care provider.
The public service announcement is part of the #HIVBeats campaign, in which YouTube influencers like Todrick Hall and Zackary Drucker provide education about HIV treatment and prevention. The initiative is a partnership between the social media platform and Greater Than AIDS.
In 2014, The Advocate produced a month-long series, 31 Days of PrEP, which provided information about the treatment and debunked stigma attached to it. It was later honored with a GLAAD Media Award. At the time, the loudest voices to discuss PrEP were its critics. Michael Weinstein, the head of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, called it a "party drug" and no subsitute for condoms.
At present, a plethora of organizations and public figures, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and fellow Drag Race alumnus Carmen Carrera have spoken out in support of PrEP as an essential part of the toolkit for HIV prevention, which also includes condoms.
Bob the Drag Queen's PSA may be a bellwether in the fight against PrEP's stigma. However, the drag performer is no stranger to activism. After Bob won season 7 of RuPaul's Drag Race in May, he told The Advocate that advocacy would be a part of his duties as America's Next Drag Superstar.
"I have three goals: to give back to the community, [support the] children, and make people laugh," he said, adding, "Now that I’m America’s Next Drag Superstar, I tend to carry that out to an even bigger level. I’m not gonna stop being political."
Watch the video below.