Is PrEP for you?

PrEP is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which means it’s now easier than ever to get your hands on this amazing little pill! Taken daily, it’s been proven to be highly effective at preventing HIV.

Before it was listed on the PBS, the only way to access affordable PrEP was either through a study or by importing it from overseas. Now, all you need is a script from a doctor and you’re all set to get PrEP from any pharmacy.

For those who haven’t embarked on the PrEP journey yet, there’s often a whole bunch of questions, especially about whether PrEP is right for them. PrEP is not for everyone – and that’s okay. But for some of us (and the community as a whole), it’s a game changer. It allows us to take charge of our sexual health, it can liberate us from a fear of contracting HIV (and smash HIV stigma in the process), and it means that we can have the kind of sex we want.

So how do you know if PrEP might be good for you? Here are some reasons why you might benefit from getting on the PrEP train. Toot-toot!

If you don’t always (or never) use condoms

If you’re not a perfect angel in the condom department, then PrEP may be for you. Yep, condoms are a very effective way to prevent HIV transmission, but how many of us can say that we’ve been the Patron Saint of Condom Use™ every single damn time?! If there are times when condoms don’t enter the equation for whatever reason, knowing that you’re on PrEP is reassuring.

Let’s face it, for some of us, condoms have never been our favourite bedroom companion. PrEP is a great option for those of us who want to protect ourselves from HIV so we can keep all our focus on the actual bedroom companion.

The thing to remember with PrEP is that unfortunately it doesn’t prevent other STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis. Condoms, regular testing and treatment if necessary are still your best tools for avoiding these.

If you’ve recently had an STI in the arse

Have you recently had a rectal STI? You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. Having chlamydia or gonorrhoea up your bum is usually an indication that you’ve bottomed without condoms. Bottoming without condoms is pretty high risk for HIV transmission, so if you’ve been in this boat before, PrEP could be for you.

If you have a HIV positive partner who does not have an undetectable viral load

Sometimes we hook up with guys who happen to be HIV positive. For poz guys who are on treatment, chances are they have what we call an undetectable viral load (UVL). Why is UVL important? Well, guys who are undetectable (sustained over 6 months or more) are unable to pass the virus onto others!

So the good news is, when we’re hooking up with guys who are undetectable, there’s really no need for PrEP.

In Australia, the vast majority of people living with HIV are undetectable, which is awesome. However, for some guys living with HIV, achieving a UVL is not possible. If your partner is HIV positive but isn’t undetectable (or if it’s a new fling and you’re still working things out), PrEP could be what you’re looking for.

If you are involved in party-and-play

For the more sexually adventurous among us, consider PrEP your fuck buddy in pill form. If you’re having sex with lots of guys with drugs in the mix, knowing that you’re protected from HIV is great for peace of mind. Consistent condom use can sometimes be difficult when using certain drugs while having sex. So even if a condom (or glove) doesn’t make an appearance, you’ll know you’re still protected from HIV.

If you are having sex outside of your relationship

PrEP is great for those of us inclined to dip our toes outside of our relationship. Let’s face it, monogamy isn’t for everyone and hooking up with strangers can be a thrill!

Bringing PrEP into the conversation when establishing agreements about an open relationship is a good idea. While you might already have an agreement to use condoms outside the relationship to protect yourself and your partner from other STIs, PrEP can add another layer of protection. Often we’re unsure about the HIV status of casual hook ups, so PrEP is a great way to protect yourself and your partner from HIV while enjoying other fish in the sea.

If you are heading overseas soon

If you’re planning on heading overseas soon, and thinking about getting acquainted with the locals, consider adding PrEP to your toiletries bag. Many countries do not have the testing or treatment options that we often take for granted here in Australia and as a result HIV prevalence is higher in many parts of the world. Having PrEP with you means that you can say ‘hola papi’ or ‘ciao bello’ with an extra layer of confidence.

Bon voyage!

PrEP is available on the PBS now! So, if any (or many) of these reasons to get on PrEP applied to you, consider it as your HIV prevention choice. Find out more about PrEP, and how you can access it here.