My PrEP Story: Phil (part 5)
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 on the IMPACT Trial for over two years now and thankfully, I was able to get onto it from the very beginning. I’m so grateful to be on the Trial and have free, confidential and accessible sexual health services available to me, however my local clinic has gotten overwhelmingly busy.
My three-month check-ups consist of being tested for STIs and HIV and leaving with three months worth of PrEP but there’s always such an arduous process before that can happen. I have to take time off work to make the appointment, then there’s a ridiculously long waiting time before being seen and the waiting area is SO boring! I spend more time standing in there because all the seats have been filled than actually spending time with a healthcare professional! The clinic isn’t to blame for this as the government has slashed public health funding continuously since 2010 at a time where we are now getting tested more than ever. This has impacted our sexual health clinics – there are much more diagnosed STIs, much less staff and much, much longer waiting times.
Although, I work full time it’s still relatively easy for me to go to my clinic as and when is needed but this isn’t the case for everyone. Different things work for different people. There are so many busy Londoners who are unable to take time off during the week because they are unable to sort out childcare or are working during opening times and/or by the time those who have work finish all the appointments have gone. Not all clinics are open on Saturdays and if they are, they’re usually open for a shorter period of time.
It’s reminds me of trying to pay money into your bank account during your lunch break; you might be able to frantically rush to the bank, anxiously wait in line, impatiently speed up the bank teller and then rapidly buy and practically inhale something to eat in an hour but it’s impossible to get tested in the same time.
Now there’s a brand-new option for participants on the IMPACT Trial to do all STI and HIV testing through the Sexual Health London! The e-service is quick and easy to use. Register through their website two weeks before your next routine IMPACT appointment, receive your free test kit in the post, follow the instructions in the kit, put it in the freepost envelope and wait a couple of days for the results to come through. If you need treatment, a health advisor will contact you. Meanwhile, take your SHL number to your next IMPACT appointment, and (if all your tests results are negative) you won’t need any tests done in the clinic.
If you’re on the Trial in London and choose not to use the e-service, there’s no pressure to do so as you can still get tested in a clinic. However, if you suspect you have any STI symptoms, don’t use the e-service, please go to your sexual health clinic as soon as you can and ask for an appointment as soon as possible.
This is a win for everyone! You will spend less time in the clinic and there will be more time available for people who are unable to use the e-service or who need STI treatment.
For more information visit prepster.info/e-service
If you’re on the Trial and want to register with the e-service visit prep.shl.uk
If you’re not on the Trial and want to register with the e-service visit bp.shl.uk
To find videos of others doing the self test, search #PrickAndCollect on social media