In order to reduce the risk of HIV, we all need to explore and choose the method that works the best for us and our lifestyle. Some guys, both poz and neg, choose to use condoms every time they fuck to prevent their chances of transmission and there are many HIV positive guys who are on treatment to reduce their viral load to undetectable levels so they can enjoy the type of sex they want, while at the same time keep themselves and their partners safe.
Another preventative method is PrEP which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. With PrEP, HIV negative men are able to have the sex they want while reducing their risk of contracting HIV. Here’s what you need to know about PrEP so you can decide if it’s the best safe sex choice for you.
When 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
- Regularly attend group sex parties (remember to grab our FREE safe sex ‘Play Pack’)
- Are in a serodiscordant relationship where you are HIV negative and your partner is HIV positive and not on treatment.
How effective is PrEP?
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 7 days of daily medication to take full effect. During this period you may want to choose other safe sex methods like condoms.
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 have to 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 & UVL
PrEP is excellent at reducing the risk of HIV infection and transmission, but this isn’t the only way, if you’re on PrEP or thinking about starting it, here’s how you can use it in combination with other 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
In situations where your sex partner is HIV positive and has an undetectable viral load, then 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.
If you are in a long-term serodiscordant monogamous relationship, where the positive partner is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load and the negative partner is on PrEP, consideration may be given to discontinuing PrEP usage.
It is worth noting that while UVL and PrEP are considered as safe sex from HIV. UVL treatments and PrEP however do not stop the transmission of other STIs. If you or your partners are concerned about STIs, condoms when used consistently and correctly remain very effective at preventing most STI infections.
How do I get PrEP?
In order to get PrEP you’ll need to see a doctor that is experienced with HIV treatments and who can decide if PrEP is suitable for you.
When you’re with your doctor, they’ll chat to you about your sexual lifestyle and dependent on your level of risk will perform some tests to see if you can commence PrEP. These tests will include an HIV and STI test. Additional tests may include testing for Hepatitis A, B, C as well as for kidney and liver function.
PrEP is not an over-the-counter drug and those that are prescribed it should adhere to the dosage and attend periodic tests.
For those who want to import it they must have a script from a doctor and access websites that accept overseas scripts. Of course there are risks of fraudulent websites and dodgy medication. This factsheet that’s dedicated to PrEP access goes into detail about importation.
What is the difference between PrEP and PEP?
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and is a daily, ongoing medication taken by HIV negative men to prevent infection.
PEP stands for post exposure prophylaxis and is a 4-week course of treatment you can take if you believe you’ve been exposed to HIV.
Reducing your risk and staying safe
Always remember your situation may change. You may choose PrEP while you are in one situation and condoms or UVL in another. That way, you can be sure you stay safe while helping to end HIV by 2020. No matter what you choose it’s your choice and it’s important to discuss this with your partner(s) to work what works best for both of you.