I honestly thought that the hardest part would be convincing my doctor to consider putting me on Truvada, but I’m happy to say that it wasn’t.
by Anon in Tampa, Florida
I am new to taking Truvada as PrEP, but it’s definitely been on my radar for awhile - it just so happened that a few life changes prompted me to explore PrEP and have a chat with my doctor.
I recently came out of a breakup of an 8 year relationship - we were non-monogamous and fluid-bonded with each other, but used condoms for any other sexual encounter outside the relationship. We were both HIV- and I will admit that we played the game of serosorting (and in my case, being a top, de facto “seropositioning”) when we chose sexual partners to be with.
Flash forward a few months. I was moving forward, but not exactly playing the field sexually, as the breakup had me down in the dumps for quite awhile. However, I did have one close friend who I started to become physically intimate with, and while we didn’t put a label to the relationship, sex with each other was more frequent than a “fling”.
A few weeks ago, he came out to me that he had an HIV test come back positive and that he was worried that he inadvertently put me at risk. I reminded him that we had been using condoms and that I wasn’t aware of any other health factors between the two of us that would put us at higher risk than having sex with someone of unknown HIV status.
I was surprised that my feelings on the matter weren’t as tainted by the “HIV panic” that informed so much of my relationship decision making in the past - but this was a real, live person in front of me who I cared about. It made my previous thinking on the matter seem pretty trivial and backwards.
I started asking myself some hard questions and looking at my sex life in a more pragmatic way:
I am a gay man, with HIV+ partners or partners of unknown status, who will most likely be non-monogamous for the entirety of his sex life.
So why wasn’t I using PrEP?
I honestly thought that the hardest part would be convincing my doctor to consider putting me on Truvada, but I’m happy to say that it wasn’t. I know that the practice I go to treats quite a few of my LGBT friends, but it isn’t the kind of office that advertises in the local gay monthly, and, to be frank, they’ve always seemed a little haphazard in their approach to HIV testing (always at the patient’s request only, and with a double-paged consent form full of arcane legal wording that says that the test is not confidential), so I wasn’t expecting much.
However, my doctor informed me that she and another physician at the same practice had just been discussing PrEP the day before and were committing to get educated so that they could be ready for the first person to request consideration of a prescription. It just so happened that I brought it up the very next day.
I used the factsheets from the My PrEP Experience site and Gilead (check out links to the right for these and more) to better inform my doctor of why I was bringing it up and what my lifestyle factors were. She was very impressed with the homework I had done, and saw no reason why I shouldn’t be on PrEP from a general point of view.
With my recent HIV test and blood work, my doctor was able to write my prescription immediately and also ordered a more full STI picture as a baseline (to rule out any chance that I had Hepatitis B). My insurance covered all but a reasonable co-pay, and I was able to start taking it pretty much immediately.
I wanted to tell this story because this happened in Tampa, FL, at a practice that is not specifically focused on LGBT concerns. Sure, Tampa may be one of the larger Florida cities, but it’s not specifically known for having a liberal take on social issues, so I was a little worried that the doctors may be closed-minded when it comes to PrEP.
I was very happy that this was not the case.