Steve took PrEP on demand to protect himself against HIV while having sex without a condom. He enjoyed sex more, but because he had more sex without a condom, he also got a lot of STIs. And he didn’t always take his PrEP on schedule.
I prefer without
“I used to be a bit of a hypochondriac; I only had to sneeze and I thought I had HIV. When PrEP came on to the market in the Netherlands, I jumped at the chance. My main reason: I wanted to have sex without a condom and without getting HIV.”
Always one STI or another
“When I started taking PrEP, I knew that the risk of getting HIV was next to nothing, but I was still afraid. By getting tested every three months, my faith in PrEP grew: I could really have safe sex without a condom. So I did, much more often than before. But all that sex meant I kept getting virtually every STI in the book: chlamydia, gonorrhea, etcetera. I got an STI once in a while before that but now, every time I got tested: bingo. And the STI was absolutely everywhere: on my dick, in my ass, even in my throat. I always had something or other.”
“I took PrEP on demand. I liked the idea of it more than having to take pills on a daily basis. Why would I take pills every day if I could achieve the same with 4 pills per fuck? I followed the on demand dosage schedule: I took two pills 24 to two hours before I had sex, and another two 24 hours later and another one the day after.”
“PrEP made my sex life more exciting. I had more dates and took sex further than I used to. Usually one on one, sometimes in a threesome. The gay sauna is not really my thing but I must admit I did go a few times. There it was normal for me to have sex with several men at the same time. So much so that afterwards I’d think, wow, how cheap. Oh well, I guess that’s what the saunas are there for, right.”
“I did forget my pills once in a while. Or that there were drugs involved and I had sex without PrEP and without a condom. Dumb. Afterwards, I would take double the dose of pills just to make sure, which is absurd of course. There has to be PrEP in your body BEFORE you are exposed to HIV. In hindsight, I could kick myself.” (In this case, Steve should have asked for a PEP treatment , ed.)
“I don’t take PrEP anymore because I now have a boyfriend. We mainly just have sex with each other. Sometimes we invite a third person. Just a while ago, in a toilet in Germany. Very posh. And without PrEP, quite dangerous. In the heat of the moment, desire gets the better of common sense. And hey, when you’re single, you are much more prepared for these things than when you’re in a relationship. I used to always have PrEP on hand and now I don’t. If I ever break up with my boyfriend, I will definitely use PrEP again. And I’d use it on demand again, because I don't want to take it every day. But I would be more careful about taking the pills on time - sometimes as a precaution, when I might be having sex, even if I end up not having it, and I’ll always have some on hand. Just in case. And I’d definitely be much more responsible with PrEP than before.”
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!
Text: Tommie Luyben
* Steve wished to remain anonymous, so we used a stock photo for his story.