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Queer Men: Stop PrEP Shaming Each Other!

Queer Men: Stop PrEP Shaming Each Other!

PrEP is one of this generation's greatest wonder drugs, so why are we cursing it? 


Eleven years ago, when I first came out as gay to myself and to the world, gay sex seemed like a game of Russian Roulette. Coming from the South, we didn’t have a lot of literature about HIV or homosexuality, except what we saw in movies and local productions of Rent.

I moved to L.A. green and quite scared of sex. HIV was always in the back of my ignorant mind and even the slightest “mishap” called for another Google search or trip to a testing center. Naturally, when Truvada (PrEP) came on the market, I was intrigued. Perhaps this would clear my anxiety once and for all.

PrEP, for those who don’t know, is a once-a-day pill that when taken routinely makes it impossible to contract HIV. 

PrEP has become known as a "gay birth control," and not unlike birth control there is stigma attached: Gay guys who take PrEP must be sluts, why else would they choose to be on it? Clearly gay guys want to have bareback sex without consequences, right?

Here’s the thing. No one has any idea why someone would be on PrEP. Most people I know taking Truvada are partnered up with an HIV-positive spouse. In other cases, gay guys prefer to take it because it releases their own psychological neurosis — so they won't live in constant fear of sex.

If it helps people, who are we to judge?

Casual sex is always going to be prevalent in single culture, whether gay or straight. There is a lot of hooking up happening. Don't you think it's a better idea to be in control of your health? 

Because a man is on PrEP does not mean he’s promiscuous. And another thing: If you’re dating a man you love, why shouldn’t you have condomless sex? If he happens to have HIV and he's undetectable (which means his viral load is suppressed enough that it's impossible to transmit the virus), it's the most responsible thing you can do for everyone involved. 

A man who’s taking control of his health is a lot smarter than a guy who chooses to live in ignorance. Shaming a man on PrEP for assumed "behavior" is like judging a person who always carries an umbrella in their purse — it's not like they're outside begging for rain, but they're taking precaution.

Gay or bi men practicing PrEP don’t take it because they want to hunt for sex. It's a double layer of protection. At the height of the AIDS crisis, if you had told them about PrEP they would have thought it was science fiction. The fact that we have it today is truly a miracle. Men would have given their right arm to have access to PrEP then. Who the hell are we to to insight judgment? We owe it to them. 

The long-term effects of Truvada are unknown as it’s only been administered since 2012. However, reactions to the drug are not uncommon, whether it be migraines or stomach problems. Like any drug, PrEP is not for everyone, which is why anyone who is thinking about taking it ought to discuss details with a physician.

If my 20-year-old self knew about PrEP when I moved to Los Angeles in 2007, coming out and learning about gay sex would have been a different experience. My anxiety would have lessened and I would have been less terrified.

For anyone, PrEP should be a gift from God rather than evidence that they’re promiscuous, or that they’re an easy lay. We have enough judgmental people in this world, so the last thing we want is an ignorant opinion to stop people from taking control of their health.

If you’re skeptical about PrEP, visit to ease your mind.

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David Artavia

David Artavia is the managing editor at The Advocate magazine and Plus magazines, as well as an editor Chill magazine and Follow him on Facebook @TheDavidArtavia and Instagram: @DMArtavia.

David Artavia is the managing editor at The Advocate magazine and Plus magazines, as well as an editor Chill magazine and Follow him on Facebook @TheDavidArtavia and Instagram: @DMArtavia.