We spoke to two guys who are taking PrEP to find out how they discuss it with their sexual partners and if they’d faced stigma because of it.
Do you find it hard to bring up PrEP if you want to have sex with someone?
Olivier: “I started taking PrEP a while ago and at first I had to explain to guys what it was. Now there is so much publicity about it that I don’t have to anymore. People know what it is as soon as you mention it.”
Kirk: “Sometimes it’s hard. I don’t tell my friends because I think they might make judgements but I do tell most guys. I did have sex with a positive guy and didn’t mention it. I think he assumed I was positive too – he told me he was positive and I said that was OK. Telling him didn’t matter to me in that situation, but if a guy asks I will always tell him.”
Have you ever experienced stigma because you are on PrEP?
Olivier: “I’m proud that I’m on PrEP and looking after myself. I haven’t really experienced stigma, but maybe that’s because I connect with guys who want the same thing – I look for clues on their profile as lots of guys say they are on PrEP or say ‘treatment for prevention’ on their profiles.”
Kirk: “Definitely online. People who hide behind a screen and say things online that they wouldn’t say to your face. Nothing major but just calling me sleazy or a slut. I don’t really care. I like sex and so do a lot of other people. Some people have asked me why I don’t just use condoms but for me I used to have situations often where I didn’t always use them, even with the best intentions. PrEP, for me, feels safer than taking risks sometimes.”
Has anyone ever declined to have sex with you because of PrEP?
Olivier: “Not really because of PrEP specifically. I’ve had sex with condoms with guys who want to use them. I haven’t had people switched off by PrEP, but I am very open about it so it’s never a surprise to people.”
Kirk: “I’ve had one or two dates that didn’t go anywhere because I’d mentioned PrEP and they said they weren’t interested. I don’t let it get to me. I’ve turned people down before for different reasons so you can’t expect every shag to work out.”