Mental wellbeing

You’re HIV negative – Should you trust a guy who says he’s on PrEP?

What a dilemma! He says he’s on PrEP, and you’re trying to figure out if it’s OK to trust him. Is he telling the truth? And if he is, what does that mean for you?

If you’re not familiar with PrEP, it stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and if you’re HIV negative it’s a highly effective strategy that uses medication to protect you against HIV.

Thousands of people across Australia are already using this groundbreaking HIV prevention strategy… So should you trust a guy who says he’s on PrEP?

Let’s assume you’re not considering buying a car off him and get straight to the point: We’re talking about sex. To be specific, we’re talking about that little question that’s perhaps popped into the back of your head: I wonder if it’s OK if we fuck without a condom?

Will you choose to protect yourself, or will you choose to believe somebody else is going to?

Now, for some of us, this isn’t a new thought. Guys have been enjoying sex without condoms for a lot longer than either you or me have been on planet Earth. And now we have even more HIV prevention options like PrEP available to us, it can sometimes be a confusing world to navigate.

Speaking of you, let me be so bold as to wildly assume some basics about you:

  1. You’re HIV negative
  2. You’re not currently using PrEP
  3. You’re considering having condomless sex with a guy who says he’s using PrEP

Now, even if this isn’t you, stick around — you might find out something of interest.

The situation

Assuming the above is true, let’s focus on what this boils down to: Will you choose to protect yourself, or will you choose to believe somebody else is going to?

Whether he’s telling the truth or not, you can’t absolutely know for sure. He might be a charming sweet talker, a genuine and trustworthy guy, or just super handsome… But even if you do trust him, would that affect your decision to use condoms?

I’m not here to preach to you in terms of shoulds and shouldn’ts. Using a condom is a highly effective way to protect yourself against HIV… and so is PrEP. But if you’re not using PrEP and you have sex without a condom there’s still a chance you could be exposed to HIV and impact your long term wellbeing. While excellent treatment options are now available for managing HIV, we don’t yet have a cure.

If he is HIV negative and using PrEP every day, then credit goes to him for protecting his own interests, as well as yours. However, have you considered how much protection that offers your mental wellbeing?

For some guys, the anxiety of potentially being exposed to HIV is a huge mental burden. Even if you’re not exposed to HIV in this situation, not knowing whether you have or haven’t can be severely damaging to your mental health.

Your body. Your choice.

Whether you should trust a guy who says he’s on PrEP isn’t a question I can answer for you. But I’d suggest that whether you choose to protect your body against HIV right now is probably more important than whether you choose to trust him in your heart and mind in the moment.

First of all, trusting someone doesn’t have to mean you won’t use condoms with them. Fortunately for you, trust and condoms are totally compatible; so don’t hesitate to rubber up if that works for you.

Know about PEP

If you do fuck without condoms and you find yourself worrying about HIV afterwards, it’s useful to know about PEP.

PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis — it’s a 28-day course of anti-HIV medicine intended to prevent you from getting HIV after a possible exposure. However, you’ve got to act fast. For PEP to stand a good chance of working it should be started within 72 hours after exposure, and ideally as soon as possible.

Exposed to HIV? Get PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)

The Get PEP website has information on how to get PEP closest to wherever you’re based, as well as PEP information phone lines. Offering to show the website to medical staff can help them provide you with the best possible healthcare.

Considering PrEP

Now maybe you happen to fuck without a condom and you’re not worried about HIV afterwards. I respect that’s your decision… and have you also considered if PrEP could be right for you too? In fact, if you’re comfortable doing so, you’ve got a PrEP user you just had sex with who could be good to talk to about getting it and using it!

Both accessing and using PrEP are much easier and more affordable than you might think. The PrEP’D For Change and PAN (PrEPaccessNOW) community websites have information on choosing if PrEP is right for you, as well as how you can access it wherever you’re based. There’s even a PrEP’D For Change Facebook group and a PAN Facebook group for you to ask questions without judgment and find out more about using PrEP.

Whatever you choose, isn’t it amazing we live in a world where there’s even more options than ever before to protect yourself against HIV in ways that can really work for you?

How to get PrEP in Australia

If you want to know how to get PrEP wherever you’re based in Australia, here’s everything you need to know about finding a doctor, accessing PrEP and seeking financial support:

All of Emen8’s PrEP articles can be viewed here.

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