Peter uses PrEP on demand. His sex life is pretty much the same as before, even though he doesn’t always use condoms any more.
“Before I used PrEP, I always had safe sex, in other words I used a condom. I am pretty much in control of myself. If I don’t want to do something, I won’t do it. Even when I was high, I had entire discussions about safe sex and I won. However, I still wanted to take PrEP, because I was fed up with keeping an eye on what the other person was doing, or if the condom was still in one piece. I wanted to be thinking of other things than that when I was having sex with someone.”
Unknown HIV status
“And even though I always used a condom when having sex, I still worried about HIV. Especially when I slept with people who had no idea what their HIV status was. For all I knew, they could have a recent HIV infection, and then it is really easy to infect others.”
“I use PrEP on demand (before and after sex). When I go to a party where I think something might happen, or if I plan a date, I take the pills. Even if we are going to use condoms because I feel much better knowing I am extra safe.”
“Sex has definitely changed because of PrEP, even though I don’t do anything different. I let myself go more than I used to. I don’t get scared off if I don’t know if we have a condom or not. I do it more often without a condom, but not always. As the top, I don’t really notice a difference, but as bottom, it is easier to keep going without a condom. It is more comfortable. But as the bottom, you are more at risk for HIV, so I wouldn't want to do it without a condom if I weren't on PrEP.”
“In terms of STIs, I’ve been pretty lucky, I haven’t gotten any yet. That is why I am OK with the amount of risk involved. I don't think there is much chance of getting hepatitis C when having regular anal sex.”
Still at risk
“My family doctor didn’t know about PrEP when I asked him about it. I gave her the guidelines and hinted that I might be at risk for HIV. She didn’t really want me to go into details. But I actually really was at risk. That I had always had safe sex up to then, was due to my level of self discipline. One day, I might just not have the energy or will to keep up that self discipline.”
“Because I am now in a relationship, I need to rethink how much I am at risk for STIs. Because anything I catch, I will also take home with me. I might think that other STIs besides HIV are an acceptable risk, but the other person has to agree. We haven’t really discussed this in depth yet but is not really an issue right now. At the moment, I don't really want to have sex with anyone else, I’d rather do it with him.
Man to Man interviewed men with a wide variety of experiences and reasons to use PrEP. Their personal stories about sex and health do not necessarily reflect Man to Man’s recommendations. PrEP is a very effective way to protect yourself against HIV. For other STIs, condoms are the best available protection.
Do you want to tell which choices you make to protect yourself from HIV and/or STIs? Mail your story to Man tot Man!
Tekst: Arjan van Bijnen