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Alternatives to PrEP: Creating Safe, Effective Options

October 20, 2021

On September 23, 2021, industry publication Fierce Pharma reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted priority review status to cabotegravir, a long-acting version of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). As early as January 2022, the FDA could issue its decision on the drug, potentially making available another long-acting HIV prevention medication.

Gabriel Arana traces PrEP’s history, beginning in the mid-1990s, when the development of antiretroviral therapies attempted to render HIV a chronic illness rather than a death sentence. By 2012, the FDA approved PrEP, a daily pill that guards against infection with HIV, under the brand name Truvada. PrEP’s effects have been profound: in study after study, gay and bisexual men report that it has “freed them from the fear and anxiety once endemic to sex.” PrEP has given people greater control over their sex lives; it has made sex “liberating again.”

To many, cabotegravir could be even easier to use than PrEP pills. James Factora explains that rather than adhering to a daily regimen of pills, people would be able to receive an injection every-other-month to prevent contracting HIV. If cabotegravir passes FDA priority review, it would become the first available medication of its kind. 

We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation are advocates for our fundamental human right to sexual freedom. That right, of course, relates to sexual intimacy itself. We want folks to have options. We want folks to be able to engage in sex not ridden with fear and anxiety; we want sex to be liberating. We hope that cabotegravir proves to be an effective, safe alternative to PrEP pills.


photo of pills

Blue pills against a green background (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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