You only need to log onto any one of the better hook-up sites or apps to see how popular the use of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) has become. Every second or third guy describes himself as being “negative, on PrEP”, and there is a very good reason for this. PrEP can decrease the chances of HIV transmission by more than 90%, even without the use of condoms, and even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that 1 in 4 gay or bisexual men should be counselled about using PrEP.
PrEP won’t protect you from other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis or any of the hepatitis strains, but here is a list of reasons you should consider going on PrEP if you have been thinking about it:
- If you are HIV-negative and there is any chance that you may be having sex with someone who is HIV-positive, you should take PrEP. Remember, 1 in 6 people who are HIV-positive do not know that they are HIV-positive and show no signs or symptoms of having HIV.
- If you are a guy who has sex with other guys and you’ve been diagnosed with an STI in the past six months, PrEP may be a good idea for you.
- You don’t always use condoms and are not in a monogamous relationship.
- You sometimes inject drugs or may be in a situation where you could be exposed to needles and another person’s blood.
- You often drink too much or use recreational drugs and have been known to make impulsive and sometimes dangerous decisions.
This list is by no means gospel, but it will give you an idea if any of these points apply to you. Even if only one point resonates with you, you should consider using PrEP as a form of HIV prevention.
Remember, you’ll need to see a doctor or registered clinician for a series of tests before you can be given a prescription for PrEP, and then you need to have been taking the pill every day for at least ten days before it will work to effectively protect you from possible HIV transmission.
Unlike PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), PrEP has fewer and much milder side effects, and they usually disappear after a few weeks of use.
Find a Health4Men serviced clinic near you at www.health4men.co.za to see where you can find out more about where to get PrEP.
Or, you can call or text Call4Care, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm on 071 683 3226