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Infectious Diseases and One Health Technology

Misleading Ads On HIV/AIDS Prevention Drugs Disabled By Facebook

American Tech Giant, Facebook, has been quietly removing misleading advertisements on HIV/AIDS prevention drugs on its platform.

This was in response to the deluge of criticisms from health experts, activists and government regulators who accused Facebook of attempting a public health crisis by allowing the ads on its platform.

The ads, linked to Facebook pages of personal injury lawyers, claimed that the class of drugs used to prevent HIV transmission to healthy subjects caused severe bone and kidney injuries.

The class of medications, called PrEP, is taken daily to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta has this to say about PrEP:

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at risk for HIV take daily medicine to prevent HIV. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently.

Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily.

CDC says two medications, sold under the brand names Truvada® and Descovy®, are approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent a person without HIV from getting the virus from sex or injection drug use. 

Devon Kearns, the Facebook spokeswoman, confirmed that the company had disabled some of the ads.

She said:

“After a review, our independent fact-checking partners have determined some of the ads in question mislead people about the effects of Truvada. As a result we have rejected these ads and they can no longer run on Facebook.”

According to the CDC, the drugs in question are safe and cause no life-threatening side-effects. This is contrary to the claim by those promoting the ads being disabled on Facebook.

CDC notes on their website:

“PrEP can cause side effects like nausea in some people, but these generally subside over time. No serious side effects have been observed, and these side effects aren’t life threatening.”

Excerpts from CDC website under the question, ‘Is PrEP Safe?’

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