PrEP Stories: David
I first heard about PrEP in 2012 where there were overseas studies taking place on HIV negative people taking HIV antivirals as a form of safe sex for HIV. At the time I had experience many anxious occasions where I didn’t use condoms because at times they were causing many problems from less sexual enjoyment to erectile dysfunction. I was also observing around me that much of our community were becoming more complacent and prepared to take risks for similar reasons. I knew at that time we would need other safe sex alternatives if we really wanted to eventually stop the spread of HIV.
It was in February 2015 that I went to a presentation at the HIV Foundation for the launch of PrEP in QLD. Through the studies that have been done overseas I was quite surprised to learn that Prep’s effectiveness was about as effective as condoms. I then went to my GLBTI friendly doctor who wrote me a script for PrEP for the medication Truvada. PREP is not yet on the PBS in Australia for HIV negative people which means it currently cost in Australia around $12000 a year. My doctor gave me a reputable international website where I could order PREP with a script where it would cost around $1500 a year. My doctor encouraged me to look at the different ways of PrEP.
After researching PREP in detail I decided to follow the IPERGAY model which involves taking 2 Truvada 2-24 hours before sex, 1 Truvada 24 hours after that and another Truvada after a further 24 hours. I decided on this model because it works out to be cheaper and also gives my body a break over a long term period. The most common model for PREP is the PROUD model where 1 Truvada is taken daily. I was also aware that Truvada over a long term period may cause slight renal damage like many mainstream medications can.
I’ve experienced virtually no side effects with Truvada except for the occasional gas. The biggest benefit of all for me was the fact that after a sexual experience without condoms I no longer needed to be anxious about the traditional though of ‘I hope I haven’t caught HIV’.
I have some profiles on websites and apps and have stated that I’m on PrEP on these profiles. This has engaged conversation and interest from both HIV negative and positive people about the effectiveness of PrEP and how this could really put new transmissions of HIV in the past.
The biggest hurdle I have had from PREP is when I’ve been to a few sexual parties and said I was on PrEP that some people don’t’ know how to react. This is probably due to the fact that in QLD the concept of PREP is such a new concept where people may at first question its true effectiveness. I believe that we all should play a part in being educated about PrEP and having the conversation with our doctors, politicians, sexual partners and lovers.
One day soon in the future I know PREP will be on the PBS and will be accepted by the vast majority of people as one of the options for safe sex from HIV. I know that new HIV transmissions will one day be behind us thanks to the acceptance and education of this wonderful game changer opportunity in pharmaceutical prevention.
We can all now share the love and not HIV.
David Hanifin, 2015