Appointment day came, and I was nervous.
I fully expected to have to go in there and plead my case to the judge: "why do you want PrEP?"... "why do you think you're at risk for HIV?"... "why are you having so much sex?"... "why do you have so many sexual partners?"
I live in Texas. One of the large cities, but it's still Texas. Definitely not a hotbed for gay acceptance or progressive anything.
When the FDA approved PrEP back in 2012, I paid attention, but was really surprised about not hearing much buzz about it. But I kept paying attention. After a while, I found out that some friends on the west coast were on it, and I kept paying attention.
Finally, after a good talk with them about risks, "should I, shouldn't I," etc., I decided to go for it. And boy was I nervous.
A few months prior, I mentioned the idea to my primary care physician. I've gone to her for years, and she's handled everything I've ever thrown at her wonderfully (when she first saw my PA, she asked me if it hurt). When I mentioned PrEP, I said I wasn't ready to do it yet, but wondered if she'd heard anything about it. She had not, but she looked into it, and said that she could refer me to an infectious disease doctor if and when I decided to go on it. Her rationale was that she doesn't have any experience prescribing Truvada (if any of her patients test positive, she gives them the same referral to the ID doctor).
So once I decided to do it, I emailed her and asked if she had since changed her mind about prescribing it (she hadn't), and again she offered to refer me to an Infectious Disease doctor. She specifically recommended one she knew personally, and spoke highly of her. Before I accepted the referral, I asked if my doctor could contact the other doctor and find out if she had any patients on PrEP. My doctor agreed, and called me a few hours later telling me that the ID does have a few patients on PrEP. So I scheduled an appointment. It would be in a little over a week.
Appointment day came, and I was nervous. I fully expected to have to go in there and plead my case to the judge: "why do you want PrEP?"... "why do you think you're at risk for HIV?"... "why are you having so much sex?"... "why do you have so many sexual partners?" These were the questions that I'd been repeating over and over to myself for the previous week.
And when the doctor finally came in the exam room and spoke to me, she didn't ask me any of them. No sexual practice questions... no slut shaming... nothing.
When she came in the room, she handed me a pamphlet about PrEP. I brought up some other health concerns (which could be exacerbated by a known, but low occurrence, side effect of the Truvada), and she wasn't worried about it at all.
She agreed to the prescription without any hesitation. "It's risk versus benefit" she said. "In high risk individuals, the benefits outweigh the risks."
We chatted a bit more (she said she was impressed with my knowledge of HIV and PrEP) and said once my blood work came back, she'd call my prescription in to the pharmacy. As I left, I thanked her, saying that the visit went so much easier than I imagined it could have.
Later that day I get an email indicating that my blood work is back, everything looks good, and that she sent my prescription. I would have actually had the medication that night, but for some reason, almost every time they send a prescription to my pharmacy, it gets "eaten" by the system. It took a couple more days for her to resend it, but as soon as she did, the pharmacy filled it. I have CIGNA insurance, and my copay for it was only $40, which was brought down to $0 with the Gilead copay assistance program.
My appointment was on a Thursday, and I picked up my Truvada on Monday (it would have been quicker if it wasn't for the weekend and the issue getting the prescription to the pharmacy).
Had I known it was going to be so easy, I would have gotten the prescription months ago.
[EDITOR: If you have a personal PrEP experience you would like to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Words or video.]