My PrEP Story: Leander (part 2)
Being a high profile sex worker gives Leander the opportunity to talk to people about PrEP from around the world. In his second My PrEP Story blog, he says why those of us you can talk about PrEP should grab every opportunity to do so.
My PrEP Story is the personal voice of people who are using, or have used, PrEP, and those who have been at the forefront of providing it and advocating for it. 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, check out our helpful guide and email [email protected]
I’ve been taking PrEP regularly for a year now.
As a sex worker (porn and escorting) I am very aware of the risks associated with an active sex life. As a scientist (neuroscience) I take great care when evaluating the evidence for specific treatments. After careful consideration I decided that PrEP was an effective and reliable method of protecting myself and others from HIV. My experience with PrEP over the past twelve months has been overwhelmingly positive.
I posted online when I started taking it a year ago and I also frequently advocate for PrEP at public events and on social media. As a result, I am often approached by people, either in person or online, who want to know more about it. I see vast differences in people’s knowledge about PrEP. Some people have read all the studies, know where and how to get it, and just want to know if I’ve experienced any side effects. Others write to me (as recently as this morning) and simply ask, “What’s PrEP?”
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to spread reliable information about PrEP to a wide audience. People feel comfortable asking you questions about sex if they know you from porn. So I speak to people from all over the world about it every day. Some of these people live in places where it is not easy or safe to discuss sexual health with their family, with friends or even with medical practitioners. As a result, their knowledge about PrEP and sexual health is sometimes very badly informed. It’s not always possible to have long conversations, but I consider it a responsibility to at least direct these people to resources and organisations where they can find reliable information. PrEP isn’t for everyone, but I think people should be able to make a decision based on all the available facts and evidence.
You don’t need to be a doctor, a sexual health clinician or a porn actor with a public following to help spread the word about PrEP. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it’s OK to talk about your sexuality, don’t be shy to tell people that you’re taking PrEP. If you are thinking about taking it, talk to others and share information. Yes, there is still stigma about PrEP, but it won’t go away if people keep quiet for fear of being perceived in a negative way. There should never be any shame in wanting to prevent the spread of HIV.