PrEP -Who is it For?
PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative and who may be at higher risk for HIV infection. Guys that we have spoken to have also told us that the added protection from HIV protection they get from PrEP reduced their HIV-related anxiety.
At ACT, we've talked to a lot of guys who have started or are interested in beginning PrEP. These are some of the stories we’ve heard:
· I'm an HIV- negative guy in a relationship with an HIV-positive guy. Guys in mixed status relationships may do a lot of things to stay healthy, like using condoms, testing regularly for HIV and other STIs, maintaining their HIV treatment regimens (so that the HIV-positive partners’ viral load stays undetectable), and discussing any outside partners they may have. PrEP may be another tool that can help you maintain a fun and healthy sex life. Added protection from PrEP can ease the anxiety that may come from the possibility of HIV transmission. An HIV-negative partner taking PrEP in conjunction with an HIV-positive partner having an undetectable viral load dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
· I don't use condoms. While using condoms is an effective way to prevent HIV, and the most effective tool for preventing other STIs, PrEP is an opportunity to significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission for guys who do not use condoms. Guys who don't use condoms often use other risk reduction strategies to keep themselves healthy like getting regularly tested for HIV and other STIs, sero-sorting (selecting partners based on their HIV status), or having sex that is lower risk for HIV. ACT has more information about reducing the risks that come with condomless sex.
· I use condoms sometimes but not always. While most guys use condoms fairly consistently, it's also common for guys to have times where they don't use condoms. Studies indicate that HIV-negative guys who use condoms only 'some of the time' are statistically still at a high risk for getting HIV. In situations where you forgot to bring a condom, the condom broke, or you got caught up in the moment and didn't use one, PrEP provides an extra layer of protection against possible HIV infection.
· I am a sex worker. When guys are doing sex work, they typically have more sex with more people than they would otherwise. This can include guys whose status you might not know or who might not be willing to talk to you about their status. Negotiating condom use can sometimes be more difficult when not using condoms might mean having more opportunities for money, food, or somewhere to stay. Taking PrEP can make you feel safer and be more protected in the work that you do.
· I use injection drugs and sometimes share gear. Sharing injection drug gear with partners and friends is a high risk activity for HIV transmission. While needle exchanges can provide free, sterile equipment to use, in the moment guys sometimes find it easier to share equipment, despite the risk of HIV infection. Luckily, PrEP has also been shown to be effective at stopping infection from injection drug use.1 The regimen is the same whether you're taking PrEP for sexual or substance use reasons, and you'll have the benefit of lower transmission risk for both.