Why I'm Proud to be PrEPPED

Proud to be PrEPPED
Marshall Jones

There’s a new sexual revolution going on right now, and it’s one that an increasing number of gay, bi, and trans men are embracing. It’s about self-empowerment and taking responsibility for our own sexual health. It’s about self-expression and loving (or at least hooking up with) whomever you want without guilt and risk. For guys like me, it’s about taking the daily HIV-prevention medication known as PrEP.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is for anyone at risk of getting HIV and is over 90 percent effective in preventing transmission. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship or you use condoms 100 percent of the time, you may still be a candidate for PrEP. Unfortunately, the vast majority of HIV-positive stories begin with “I thought we were monogamous,” “I thought he was HIV-negative,” or “I usually use a condom, but …”

And we’ve all had risky moments. Virtually no one uses a condom correctly all of the time. Recent studies show nearly half of all gay men admitted to having condomless sex in the past month. Half! So why must we pretend that as queer men, trans women, and straight women who may date people at risk of HIV that we never take risks ourselves?

It’s also time to acknowledge that the risk isn’t in the person, it’s in the action. Do you have receptive anal sex with men? That’s a high-risk behavior. Not because of someone’s small-minded idea of what’s “appropriate” sexual intercourse, but because HIV has been more successful invading our bodies through that route. It’s time to go with science, not stigma.

PrEP is liberating in many ways. One way is by giving you control over your body and empowering you to be in charge of your own sexual health. Embracing the potential PrEP offers, especially to gay and bi men and trans women, is a real eye-opener. Hornet strategist, Alex Garner, said it best in The Advocate recently: “When the threat of HIV is removed from sex, there is a profound sense of liberation.”

Imagine being able to have sex without that little voice in your head whispering this could be the time you become HIV-positive. If you could just enjoy expressing yourself, embracing your sexuality, and being free to love who and how you want. It is revolutionary. We could be the first generation in three decades to experience it.

That’s why we should be the generation that ends the HIV epidemic. Millennials are embracing the idea that the virus stops with us. Taking PrEP isn’t just putting up a “Stop:” sign — it’s throwing those spiked strips across the road that pop a car’s tires. It’s a serious line in the sand.

This is it. I’m in control of my own health. I’m taking PrEP to ease my mind, embrace my health and protect my community. I’m proud to be PrEPPED. Won’t you join me?

If you are thinking about getting on PrEP, know that it is attainable. Many health insurance plans (and Health First Colorado) can help you cover the cost of PrEP. If your plan doesn’t cover it, or the copay is too high, you can get help paying for it through several resources including a patient assistance program from Gilead, the pharmaceutical maker of Truvada, which is currently the only drug approved as PrEP.

To find a PrEP-friendly provider in Colorado or get more information about PrEP, visit ProudToBePrEPPED.com.

Tags: #HIV, #LGBT, #Health