My PrEP story: Phil (part 1)

What’s it like to use PrEP? How do people respond when you tell them you’re a PrEP user? When’s the right time to start using PrEP? Why do some people start using PrEP and then decide to stop? And what’s it like being on a PrEP trial?

One of the most powerful ways of learning is through hearing about someone’s personal experience. And in this new addition to PrEPster – My PrEP Story – we do just that.

My PrEP Story is the personal voice of people who are using, or have used, PrEP. Find out more about their decisions to use PrEP, how they have navigated using PrEP, and their very own PrEP journey.

If you’d like to add your voice to My PrEP Story email


I was following the NHS discussions about PrEP from early last year – way before the decision to do the IMPACT Trial was made. I felt passionately about PrEP even before I was involved in activism as I knew the potential PrEP could have on our community. The Trial is being run to figure out how many people may need PrEP and how long they may need it for. But I also believe it is to see whether or not it is worth making the drug available on the NHS permanently.

When I first tried to sign up to the Trial I was initially turned away because I didn’t fit one part of the criteria. I hadn’t had condom-less sex in the past three months although I had before and could potentially have it in the future. I went back to the exact same clinic, knowing more about the eligibility criteria for the Trial, and this time was accepted on to it.

One of the problems with having a trial rather than full PrEP rollout, is the strict eligibility criteria. Some people who would benefit from PrEP won’t get on the Trial because they don’t fit exactly into the criteria. And some of those people will end up getting HIV.

Why did I enrol on the Trial? Because when taken correctly PrEP is extremely effective at preventing HIV. I don’t need to worry about a sexual partner’s HIV status because I am protecting my own as well as any other HIV negative partners I have. As well as preventing HIV, it can reduce stress and anxiety about HIV transmission and enhance pleasure and intimacy. Being gay, black AND of African origin I’m in three categories that are all disproportionately affected by HIV which make it especially important that I take care of my sexual health. Another reason why I started the Trial was because being on it I can educate others about it, I could raise awareness about it and I can discuss access to it.

If you want to get enrolled on the Trial it is vital that you do your research – look into the 5 things you have to do to enrol, and if you have any questions about the Trial they will be answered at the initial presentation.

On day 1 I had expected side effects but the next day after taking the tablet with food I was completely fine. The next day I forgot to take it and by the time I realised it was hours after I should have. In order to make sure I don’t forget again I set a daily alarm at the same time reminding me to eat and take my tablet.

Come back and visit my next blog to find out how I’m getting on with remembering to take my PrEP, and how it’s going telling my friends about PrEP.

— Phil Samba