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.
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I’m a trans man. That is, I was born with female body parts and now have male external parts thanks to some wonderful surgeons. For clarity I don’t dress up. I am someone who lives their life completely in the opposite gender to what I started with. The reason why this is relevant is that I started PrEP because I was effectively a newly out gay man. I started to explore places and things that I hadn’t done before I transitioned and being single I was ready to mingle in the darkest spaces I could find!
I’ve been using PrEP for almost two years. I found out about PrEP from online websites – such as iwantprepnow and from the PROUD documentary film showing in Birmingham in 2015. When I started using PrEP I was buying it online, and getting support from my clinic. But since the autumn of 2017, I’ve been part of the IMPACT Trial.
I’ve been on the Trial since October 2017 and today I travelled to my sexual health clinic for my PrEP trial check-up. It takes me 90 minutes to get there as it’s in London – and I live in the Midlands – and so I make a day of it. Everyone who is on the Trial is asked to go to their clinic every 3 months for a check-up and to get their next supply of PrEP.
So, what happens during the check-up appointments? You book in at the clinic and get given two swabs – throat and rectal – and urine kits. I do all these swabs myself. As it’s my first check-up since starting on the Trial, I get two urine pots. One is for the normal urine STI testing and the other is for kidney function. I then go for the blood tests that check for HIV, syphilis and for Hepatitis C.
I’m then given my next 3 months of PrEP and head off to await my test results. One of the best things about my clinic is the results come through within hours. So as I’m waiting in the pub a message comes through by text that I need antibiotics. No problems – back to the clinic, jabs done, and I go home.
Why did I write that I needed treatment for an STI? Because it’s important to remember that PrEP only protects against HIV. There’s no shame in getting tested and finding out that you have an STI. Getting an STI screening is part of the process of being on the trial. By testing regularly at least I know and can tell my partners.
So, I had my day in London. The testing process was easy, the STI was treated, and the PrEP is working. Home in time for tea and Emmerdale – which incidentally is when I take my PrEP!
— Jamie Jaxon