PrEP & Truvada - HIV Prevention

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (I swear, I can never spell that word correctly. I always have to look it up.) and is a medication which, when taken on a consistent basis, can reduce your risk of contracting HIV by up to 92%. It's marketed under the brand name Truvada and can be rather expensive, if your insurance doesn't cover it. Hopefully, like mine, yours does. 

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I've been taking Truvada for a few months now and haven't noticed any ill-effects. I'm sexually active, and due for an HIV test, but I'm confident it will be a negative result. 

I'm glad I decided to get on Truvada, a.k.a. PrEP. It was a little awkward for me, considering I live in a small, rural town, to come out to my doctor, but it is somewhat necessary in order to ask to be put on the medication. There's some criteria which need to be met, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For the most part, they involve being at a higher risk for HIV infection. So, being in a relationship with someone who is HIV+ while you are negative, would be a higher risk. Similarly, someone who  has multiple partners, especially if unprotected, or their partners have recently had other STDs. It's also an option for those who use injectable illicit drugs. For more info on the criteria, you can check out the CDC website.

In my case, I'm a gay man who is rather promiscuous, and have, on occasion, not used condoms. So, I explained this to my doctor, and he tested me to make sure I was free and clear of HIV and other STDs, and prescribed me Truvada. The surprising thing, here, was that I had to tell my doctor that this was one of the indications for Truvada. He was unaware of this and had to look it up to verify it. Truvada is primarily a medication used, along with other drugs, for those who are HIV+. It has only recently been approved for use as a preventative. So I got to teach my doctor something!

The downside to using PrEP is that it kind of makes you less concerned about safer sex practices. People who are on it tend to worry less about the other stuff, since most of the other sexually transmitted infections which you can catch have quick fixes to them (for the most part), except for herpes, and hepatitis B. Guys have started throwing caution to the wind, and use condoms far less frequently which may cause a lot of other problems down the line, if and when gonorrhea grows to epidemic proportions, or something. 

Hopefully, though, PrEP will help curtail HIV transmission somewhat, and give time to find a cure, and/or a vaccine, perhaps. It would be nice not to have to worry about it any more. Admittedly, even though I'm on PrEP, I'm still one of those assholes who shies away from fucking someone when they say they're POZ. It seems like, invariably, they want to bareback, and they claim they have an undetectable viral load, but anyone can say that. 

Speaking of which, when someone tells you that they're HIV negative, that just means that when they were tested, no antibodies for the virus were detected. It does not affirm that they are negative. And once they fuck someone else, that test is meaningless. I mean, it's good to know, for yourself, and it's good to fuck people who take responsibility for their own health, but that includes your own health, as well. So, don't assume that because they tested negative last week, that they are, indeed, negative today. Use condoms.

I do recommend talking to your doctor about PrEP, if you feel you might be at a higher risk for contracting HIV. There are some potential side effects, which are listed on the Truvada site, linked to, above. I haven't encountered any, but you never know, I might burst into flames tomorrow, for all we know.