My PrEP Story: David (part 1)

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.

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I remember when a friend told me about PrEP for the first time, my reaction was: “I want it, how can I get it?” I asked.

“You can’t have it. It’s not available” he said. “They are only giving it to people at very high risk of contracting HIV infection.”

I remember thinking that’s a very blurred line. Who is making the cut? Who is supplying it? Why can’t we all have access to it? Why can’t we have the option of buying it?

Eventually, a year or so later, someone told me of the possibility of ordering it online. I then looked into the information provided by 56 Dean Street and ordered PrEP online. This option was far from ideal. The associated costs, a long shipping time, the uncertainty about the supplier and stock limitations, made this solution far from perfect.

Thankfully, nowadays, more studies have been conducted. There are more personal stories from people taking PrEP. There are more options to buy it safely online. There is more information about how PrEP works and how it’s taken. PrEP has been effectively promoted by community based sexual health organisations like Prepster, who are progressively moving things forward.

However, as a gay man, PrEP user and scientist, I believe PrEP should be made available by the NHS immediately. I’ve met people that contracted HIV during the time they were waiting for their first batch of PrEP to arrive. This might not have happened if the Department of Health had a more proactive role in providing access and distribution of PrEP in England. Top health authorities in England should be made accountable for their actions or inactions on this issue and see the evidence that shows these measures should be adopted ASAP. The British Government must take a more proactive role in this.

Why PrEP?

I have had sex with HIV negative people. I had sex with HIV positive people. I had sex with people that didn’t know they were HIV positive at the time. From these experiences, I know I don’t want to give a fuck about the status of who I am having sex with. I want to enjoy sex, the loving connection, and be fully engaged in it. I want to be there for anyone I like and have the option of having intimate condomless sex without having to be conditioned by another person’s status. I think PrEP can help us all to do that.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of some of my friends taking drugs to control a condition that affects us all, but there is only so little I can do about it. HIV transmission and prevention should have never been seen as a problem of only a few. PrEP gives us all within the community of queer men, a co-shared responsibility to further take HIV prevention into our own hands.

— David