An Oregon HIV/AIDS prevention organization is holding Facebook accountable for ads spreading dangerous misinformation about PrEP medications.
Portland’s Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) is one of 52 agencies to sign an open letter to the tech giant, demanding the removal of “factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).”
“We are very close to being able to end the HIV epidemic, but PrEP is an important part of our strategy,” CAP’s Chief of Staff Peter Parisot told the Portland Mercury. “To create fear among people who are already experiencing higher disparities in accessing health care is counter-productive.”
The ads, paid for by personal injury law firms, are targeted at LGBTQ persons through Facebook’s algorithms, encouraging them to join lawsuits against PrEP manufacturers. Truvada specifically is blamed for causing ‘serious bone and kidney problems” in HIV-negative individuals.
However, Parisot says Truvada is only dangerous when used as a treatment for HIV, rather than PrEP, and only in conjunction with certain other drugs.
“People were concerned about it when they started running the ads,” he said. “But there are no real significant dangers, at least not in the way they were presented in these ads, to people who are HIV-negative.”
Thus far, Facebook has not responded to the letter.
“We would love to see Facebook and other media outlets take these ads more seriously,” Parisot said, “because there are people’s lives at stake.”
By Brandon Urey