We have all grabbed the obligatory-handful of condoms and lube as we walk out of the bar or club. Many of us have a drawer full of condoms and lube however when it comes to the use of condoms we might not be as religious about it and we could be. Prior to 2012 this was where the story would end. If you didn’t use condoms you were choosing to play the game-of-chance. Today however there are more tools to help protect you against HIV.
You might have heard about Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) a medication that is taken by HIV negative individuals to help protect against infection. Studies have shown that when taken as prescribed PrEP has been shown to protect as much as 99% against infection. Most report that they have little to no side-effects. In studies, those that experienced side-effects had them subside after a few weeks.
I, like many people, am involved in sexual-activities that can be viewed as high-risk. Let me assure you, had PrEP been an option prior to becoming infected with HIV, I would have taken it. My partner and I talked about it and after much thought he decided to start PrEP. This great new tool provides another layer of protection so we can keep him HIV negative. I want to be very clear that PrEP is intended to be used in conjunction with other prevention strategies to help protect against various sexually transmitted diseases. If we are honest however, there is a large portion of the leather, kink, BDSM, raunch-communities that are not using condoms. This is not something that is unknown. If people were using condoms then we would not have had over 50,000 new infections last year. I promote PrEP since this is a tool that IS effective in reducing new infections.
Philip has decided to share his journey of starting PrEP in a blog titled “Lets Talk About PrEP. I encourage you to check it out at www.letstalkaboutprep.blogspot.com.
There is also a Facebook page where you can get all of your questions and concerned answered. I encourage you to check it out at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrEPFacts and finally you can visit www.truvada.com to learn how to have the conversation with your healthcare professional or clinician.
Cost should not be something that inhibits you from checking into PrEP since there are patient assistance programs that will assist you in getting the medications. Prior to starting on PrEP you will be tested for HIV and have lab work completed to check liver enzyme. Once all of that comes back your doctor’s office will work with Gilead to get the medications for you. If along the way you encounter issues, please contact myself or someone in the PrEP group so we can help you.
Regardless of what you decide, I want to encourage you to educate yourself regard safer-sex, risk-reduction, PrEP and other ways to keep yourself, your boys and partners healthy.