Episode 5: HIV Meds Then and Now ft. Lauren Biehle Gory, PharmD, BCPS

Silence=Death poster created by ACT UP April 1987. Source: ACT UP NYC

Silence=Death poster created by ACT UP April 1987. Source: ACT UP NYC

Queer History Lesson of the Day

AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was founded in 1987 as a response to political ignorance surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to ACT UP, “The pink triangle was established as a pro-gay symbol by activists in the United States during the 1970s. Its precedent lay in World War II, when known homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear inverted pink triangle badges as identifiers, much in the same manner that Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. Wearers of the pink triangle were considered at the bottom of the camp social system and subjected to particularly harsh maltreatment and degradation. Thus, the appropriation of the symbol of the pink triangle, usually turned upright rather than inverted, was a conscious attempt to transform a symbol of humiliation into one of solidarity and resistance. By the outset of the AIDS epidemic, it was well-entrenched as a symbol of gay pride and liberation.”

In 1987, six gay activists in New York formed the Silence = Death Project and began plastering posters around the city featuring a pink triangle on a black background stating simply ‘SILENCE = DEATH.’ Some believed the organization to be aggressive but who could judge when young, healthy individuals were dying off and nobody cared. There was no test until 1985. Ronald Reagan did not not mention the word “AIDS” until 1985. Hope was dwindling as everyday the obituary section of the paper got longer and longer.

By 1987, there were over 20,000 deaths from HIV and AIDS with over 4,000 during that year alone. AZT was FDA-approved which was progress, however, individuals suffered from terrible side effects. In 1993, the Journal of American Medical Association issued an article titled “HIV infection as leading cause of death among young adults in US cities and states” for those 25-44 years of age.

Flash forward: Truvada is FDA approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) of HIV. There are treatment options for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Undetectable = untransmittable is a prevention strategy. A rapid HIV antibody takes 60 seconds to process. HIV positive people live almost as long as HIV negative people.

This episode is dedicated to the many individuals who were lost in this terrible epidemic. This disease wiped out a whole generation of young, healthy individuals trying to live a long, fulfilling life just like everyone else in the world. We promise to continue fighting to decrease stigma and end HIV/AIDs.


Original ACT UP Website

Contemporary ACT UP Website


A Brief Timeline of AIDS

JAMA Article Abstract


Today’s episode features Lauren Biehle Gory from Take Two Pills… and listen to this podcast. Besides her amazing work with Two Pills Podcast, Lauren is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and an Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist. Lauren and I discuss the evolution of HIV medications from the 1980s to present. Lauren dives into the common medications prescribed today and defines “undetectable=untransmittable” from a pharmacologic standpoint. Lauren Biehle, PharmD, BCPS is a clinical associate professor at the University of Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, she pursued a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas followed by a PGY-2 residency in Infectious Diseases Pharmacotherapy at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy/Cardinal Health.


HIV Meds Then and Now ft. Lauren Biehle Gory, PharmD, BCPS Full Transcription


Show Notes


Take Two Pills website

Stream Take Two Pills…and listen to this podcast

Take Two Pills is on Twitter


What is a HIV and Infectious Diseases clinical pharmacist?

Timeline of HIV Medications

HIV Medications, Updated November 2018