Being PrEP-ared with PrEP
In order to reduce the risk of HIV, we all need to explore and choose the method that works for us and our lifestyle. Some guys, both HIV positive and negative, choose to use condoms every time they fuck to prevent their chances of transmission and there are many poz guys who are on treatment to reduce their viral load to undetectable levels so they can enjoy sex, while at the same time keeping their partners safe.
Another preventative method is PrEP which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. With PrEP, HIV negative men are able to reduce their risk of contracting HIV while having the sex they want. Here’s what you need to know about PrEP so you can decide if it’s the best safe sex choice for you.
Why should I use PrEP?
You may choose PrEP if you believe that you may be in situations where you could be exposed to HIV. PrEP is perfect if you are having lots of sex with multiple partners and you’re not sure of their statuses. You could also consider PrEP if:
- You’re sexually active and don’t regularly wear condoms
- You regularly attend group sex parties (remember to grab our FREE safe sex ‘Play Pack’)
- You are in a serodiscordant relationship; where you are HIV negative and your partner is HIV positive and not on treatment.
How does PrEP work?
If taken every day, PrEP can reduce your risk of HIV dramatically. Just like condom use, PrEP is most effective when used consistently. If you’re not taking PrEP regularly then it is far less effective at preventing HIV infection.
It takes about seven days of daily medication to take full effect. During this period you may want to choose other safe sex methods like condoms.
How effective is PrEP?
It’s important to note that while PrEP is effective against HIV infection, it does not protect you against other STIs. If you choose to use PrEP, and continue to worry about STIs, you may consider using condoms as well to ensure you’re protected against other infections.
PrEP is more than just a pill, it is a program which involves testing regularly, not only does this ensure that people taking PrEP are staying negative, it also ensures that if any STIs are contracted, they’re picked up and treated early.
Using PrEP with condoms & Undetectable (UVL)
Here’s how you can use PrEP in combination with other safe sex methods that your partners may be using.
Condoms + PrEP
While PrEP gives you the peace of mind for HIV, condoms ensure that you are maximising your protection against many other STIs. Many people who choose to use PrEP will also negotiate condom use with their potential sexual partners. Ultimately this is a decision that needs to be discussed before getting down to business.
UVL + PrEP
Where your sex partner is HIV positive and has an undetectable viral load, using PrEP just ensures that you’re significantly reducing your risk of getting HIV while your partner is actively reducing his chances of transmitting HIV.
It is worth noting that while UVL and PrEP are considered as safe sex from HIV they do not stop the transmission of other STIs. In this case, adding condoms to the mix could be a sound choice.
How do I get access to PrEP?
PrEP is now available on the PBS meaning any doctor can write a script for PrEP for anyone with a Medicare care who is considered at risk of acquiring HIV.
When you’re with your doctor, they’ll chat to you about your sexual history and dependent on your level of risk will determine your eligibility to commence PrEP. You will need to do tests including an HIV and STI test to ensure you are HIV negative before starting PrEP. Additional tests may include testing for Hepatitis A, B, C as well as for kidney and liver function.
Once you know that PrEP is right for you, your doctor will give you a script that you can then take to your local pharmacy to be dispensed (filled) at a subsidised price.
If you are unable to access PrEP through Medicare, an alternative is to purchase a generic version of PrEP from a reliable overseas supplier. You still required to get a script from your doctor before ordering online. Visit the ‘PrEP Access Now’ site for more information.