It’s such an honor to be involved with PrEPaccessNOW. I strongly believe that a community’s responsibility to ‘behave’ (whatever that means) should not be tied to the threat of an incurable condition. I take PrEP because it’s time for all of us to remove HIV as a factor in our sexual and emotional relationships, unhealthy and PrEP is currently the most effective means of achieving this. For the first time since I was a teenager, I do not get nervous when getting tested, and that, to me is worth everything. The more of us that take this step, and take responsiblity for our own personal sexual health, the more the shadow of HIV stigma and HIV predjudice will weaken and cease to hold influence over our community. Imagine a day when disclosing your status, be it postive or negative, holds no significance for anyone anymore. What could our community achieve with this weight removed from our collective consciousness?
I have been a staunch believer in open communication around sexual health all my life – and enjoy working in youth sexual health awareness and education.
My own personal PrEP experience began as a result of re-entering the single life and finding myself in a situation where I was unable to protect my own sexual health. I wound up (like many) on PEP and was motivated to take action. Before PrEP I was wracked with sex-guilt any time a condom broke, or one wasn’t used in the spur of the moment, and sometimes even when one was used correctly. My PrEP journey has enabled me to reclaim the protection of my own body and be comfortable and enjoy sex free of guilt.
I’m what sociologists describe as a Sexually Adventurous Man, and in so being my adventures are often with men who are living with HIV. PrEP means I can play on an equal playing field. It’s no longer about them keeping me safe, it’s about us playing together – and that really does change the game. As a participant in the vicPrEP study, I’m so fortunate to have access to PrEP and the support the study provides. I’m in PrEPaccessNOW to help level the playing field for others.
My PrEP journey began as a way for me to eliminate the fear, anxiety and guilt I had felt every time I would see my doctor for sexual health screening. The self-fulfilling guilt I would put on myself for the times I was not using condoms was a heavy burden I had not realised was weighing on me all these years. Beginning PrEP was the best thing I could do for my own health, as it has allowed me to shed all of these negative feelings of my HIV risk and the surprising result of this has been the empowerment I feel in being able to take responsibility for my own sexual health. I strongly believe PrEP is a game changer in reducing HIV transmissions and that all individuals should have the right to affordable and accessible options in accessing PrEP. I believe that through awareness, education and easy access, achieving zero new HIV transmissions is within reach for our generation.
As a proud male escort with a high sex drive and history of impulsive behaviour, PrEP was a no-brainer for me to not only protect myself but my partners as well, and the incredible freedom it provided me made it an imperative for me to help others achieve the same. Working with PAN has been an honour, and a wonderful opportunity for me to get involved in the community and genuinely improve lives.
Ending HIV in Australia while still respecting the rights and liberties of individuals instead of demonising their choices is a very important cause to me and I look forward to the day when we can look back on HIV as a thing of the past and marvel at how far we’ve come.