Facing a pressure campaign from LGBT
groups and AIDS activists, Facebook has started to quietly remove ads
that suggest the HIV prevention drug PrEP is unsafe.
In December, more than 50 LGBT,
HIV/AIDS, and public health groups signed a letter asking Facebook
Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to drop the ads from running on
Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns.
The groups said in their letter that
the ads are “dangerous and misleading.”
“Using Facebook’s and Instagram’s
targeted advertising programs, various law firms are attempting to
recruit gay and bisexual men who use Truvada PrEP as an HIV
preventative to join a lawsuit, claiming that the drug has caused
harmful side effects in this patient population, specifically bone
density and kidney issues,” the letter states.
One ad targeted by the groups states:
“Truvada NRTIs drug ALERT Bone Loss Kidney Damage.”
Citing studies conducted by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the groups said
that using PrEP as a preventative medication has minimal to no side
“By allowing these advertisements to
persist on their platforms, Facebook and Instagram are convincing
at-risk individuals to avoid PrEP, invariably leading to avoidable
HIV infections,” the groups said. “You are harming public
A Facebook spokesperson told The
Washington Post that some of the ads had been removed.
“After a review, our independent
factchecking partners have determined some of the ads in question
mislead people about the effects of Truvada,” the spokesperson
said. “As a result we have rejected these ads and they can no
longer run on Facebook.”
Facebook initially said that the ads do
not violate its advertising policies.