Saturday, January 16, 2016

Who Should Use PrEP?

Lots of folks! 

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a daily medication that is available by prescription. People that are at high risk for HIV may choose to use this medication to prevent HIV. Like any medication there are risks and benefits to taking it. We encourage you to use your best judgement and talk to your clinician and see if it's right for you.  

We put together some stories about the kinds of reasons someone might choose to use PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention). Please note – these are composites of actual people and situations.

Mike is a 41 year old man from Towson. He identifies as gay and lives in a cute house with his husband, a picket fence and two dogs. He travels frequently on business. He and his husband have an open relationship. When Mike travels he likes to have anonymous sex with other men. Having a conversation about HIV status isn’t something he usually does and he assumes some of the men he has sex with are HIV positive. He uses condoms most of the time, but occasionally a condom fails or he gets carried away and doesn’t use one. Mike has decided to use PrEP as extra protection against HIV.

Julie is a sex worker. She works on the street in Baltimore and frequently finds that she can make more money if she doesn’t use a condom. Sometimes, even when she insists on using a condom, her client won’t listen or will remove the condom part way through. She decides to use PrEP because it is prevention that she can control.

Shavon and Norman have been married for 15 years. They met at a NA meeting and are both in recovery. Before he got sober, Norman contracted HIV from sharing needles. He is currently medicated and his viral level is undetectable. Their doctor has informed them that the risk of transmission is very low, even if a condom breaks. However, when she was young, Shavon lost people close to her to HIV and she is very frightened of contracting the virus. Any time a condom breaks, she panics and is worried for weeks. As a result, she and Norman don’t have intercourse as often as they would like. Shavon decides to take PrEP  for additional peace of mind.

Chase is a gay man in his early 20s in Baltimore. He loves to party. Sometimes he hooks up with guys in the bathroom at the club, or picks up men from Grindr. When he’s partying he likes to use alcohol and other drugs. The morning after, sometimes he doesn’t know if he’s used a condom or not. He’s not interested in changing his alcohol and drug use at this time. He’s tried and he always ends up in the same situation. So he decides to changes something he knows he can change. He sets a daily alarm in his iPhone and gets a prescription for PrEP.

Olivia lives with Mark. She suspects that he’s cheating on her frequently. Sometimes she sees needle marks on his arms. He denies both the cheating and the drug use and insists that they don’t need condoms. Olivia loves Mark and keeps hoping he’ll change. She’s not ready or willing to leave him. She goes to the doctor and starts taking PrEP. She puts the pills in a vitamin bottle so he won’t know what she’s doing.

There are as many reasons to take PrEP as there are people who take PrEP. If you want to learn more, we hope to see you at the workshop at Sugar on January 24th at 6:30 pm (free). Or check out this website!

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