Facebook removes misleading HIV drug ads after backlash from LGBTQ activists

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Facebook has started removing misleading ads about an HIV prevention medication after backlash from LGBTQ activists and politicians.

The ads in question were purchased by pages from personal injury lawyers and linked drugs designed to stop the spread of HIV, like Truvada and PrEP, with bone and kidney damage. The ads urged users to join a lawsuit against the drug's manufacturer. LGBTQ advocates say the ads' claims are false.

In an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg penned early December, LGBTQ advocates provided multiple studies proving the effectiveness of Truvada.

"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. You are harming public health," the letter read.

Facebook initially declined to disable the ads, according to The Washington Post. On Dec. 30, the company told Business Insider it would no longer run them.

"After a review, our independent fact-checking partners have determined some of these 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," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.

While LGBT activists praised Facebook for its decision, some were still uneasy that it took so long for the company to respond.

"The removal of select ads is a strong first step given the findings of Facebook's own fact-checking agency and the dozens of organizations that spoke out," Sarah Kate Ellis, the leader of GLAAD told The Washington Post. She added "the time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention."

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