Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ed Shaw on Truvada

 Ed Shaw and Sanna Klemetti

To follow up on the GAA article about Truvada, (the first HIV prevention pill on the market), I met up with Ed Shaw, who is a friend, an activist, and a senior who lives with AIDS in New York City. Ed Shaw was diagnosed with HIV in 1988 at the age of 47, and he is now considered a long time survivor. I have written two previous articles about Ed, please read the articles here, and here.

After consulting with his doctor, Ed decided that he wanted to start taking Truvada. The drug Truvada was not a prevention pill when it first came out on the market 2004; it was an antiretroviral drug for treating HIV. But starting in 2010, studies showed that the drug could actually prevent people from contracting HIV when used as a precautionary measure. A three year-long study found that a daily dose cut the risk of infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42 percent, when combined with condoms and counseling. Last year another study showed that Truvada reduced infection by 75 percent in heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not.

I asked Ed if he was experiencing any side effects from taking Truvada. He told me that he has been on a lot of different drugs through the years and that Truvada is by far the least toxic antiretroviral he has ever used. Ed takes two other pills along with Truvada every day. Importantly , since he got on Truvada, his viral load is undetectable and his T-cells have reached near 800. A health adult usually has CD4+ T-cell counts of 800 and more; meanwhile a person living with HIV/AIDS has fewer than 200 CD4+ T-cells.

Ed explained that he has more problems now with the co-morbidity of aging, than with his virus. I also asked if he thinks Truvada is a good prevention pill to take for older adults and seniors who are in the risk zone for HIV. He definitely thinks so, he saying, “Truvada is the best thing since sliced bread!”.

Over all he is doing very well. He is still active and involved in a lot of different projects. Last June, Ed participated in the AIDS Walk in Washington DC. He told me that over 28 .000 people showed up, not only from the US, but also many came from a large number of countries. Ed is still active with his own organization, the New York Association on HIV Over Fifty (NYAHOF). There is one thing where he thinks we have failed: HIV prevention. He believes that advocates must take a more intergenerational approach. He does not understand why some groups are being left out. He is currently working on projects that will reach the entire population across all ages.

Word by Sanna Klemetti
Photos by Kirill Ginko


  1. Duygu Basaran SahinOctober 10, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    I love Ed! Thanks Sanna.

  2. Ed is a great activist who has done an amazing job educating people about aging and HIV issues. He's the first person who brought that specific need to my attention, years ago, and I'm grateful for his hard work.