Facebook should remove "factually inaccurate" ads that "suggest negative health effects" of the HIV-prevention medication Truvada, more than 50 LGBTQ, HIV, and public health groups say in an open letter to the company.
The ads are from law firms seeking to recruit gay and bisexual men for a class-action lawsuit against Truvada maker Gilead Sciences, NBC News reported Wednesday. The groups say the ads are misleading because they warn against side effects that mainly occur with long-term treatment for people who already have HIV. The class-action lawsuit claims that certain side effects among some patients taking Truvada could have been prevented if Gilead had not delayed the release of a safer version of the original drug, which was shelved in 2004.
"The advertisements are targeting LGBTQ Facebook and Instagram users, and are causing significant harm to public health," the letter states. "The law firms' advertisements are scaring away at-risk HIV-negative people from the leading drug that blocks HIV infections."
In a statement sent to NBC News, a spokesperson for Facebook said the company values its "work with LGBTQ groups" and both welcomes and seeks out their input. "While these ads do not violate our ad policies nor have they been rated false by third-party fact-checkers, we're always examining ways to improve and help these key groups better understand how we apply our policies," the spokesperson said.