OPED : The truth in lies of PrEP
Firstly I want to be totally frank and admit the obvious - PrEP is a groundbreaker and a gamechanger for the MSM (Men who have sex with men) community.
Its efficacy is unrivalled (when the daily Truvada regimen is adhered to) and the swathe of studies showing its potential to dramatically reduce and possibly eliminate new HIV infections (other than when a participant has been infected by a PrEP-resistant strain of the virus however) is incredibly impressive.
That’s not what I’m debating, this is not an article undermining PrEP, it’s about underscoring a trend in the community that is worrisome and troubling to say the least.
Lying about being on PrEP.
Adhering to the daily blue pill of prevention has revolutionized dating and sex in the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before and HIV rates have stagnated as a result. Yet as a good friend recently said to me, when two ‘preppers’ collide, the latex love gloves come off.
And we’ve seen attitudes change in relation to casual sex and condoms - they’re no longer seen as ‘compulsory’ now that PrEP has proven 99%> efficacy from studies such as iPrEx, Partners PrEP and VOICE. The power of this petite pill has enabled people to have unprotected sex without the substantial risk of HIV infection looming over them.
Yet what if that stallion on Grindr who says he’s on PrEP – isn’t? What if that luscious power bottom in perfectly-tailored tight-fitting jeans claims he’s been on PrEP “for ages” – but isn’t?
For a small percentage of people the drug just isn’t tolerable, the effect on the kidneys may be profound and/or side-effects inhibit enjoyment of everyday life, thus PrEP isn’t for everyone. Then there may be another group of men who just don’t want to take a daily medication, hence why not all of the MSM community are taking PrEP, and that’s OK.
Yet it’s not OK to tell people you’re on PrEP simply to get them to drop their guard and engage in unprotected sex. And on the flipside of that, men who aren’t on PrEP need to be more vigilant when asking prospective partners about their PrEP usage. Small details like the study they’re on and/or how they acquire the drug (through a GP yet via a clinic for example) and even down to querying how many pills are in the bottle each refill.