What was the biggest “side effect” I personally noted on PrEP?
By far the biggest side effect I have had with PrEP has been a monumental shift in my own belief structures.
I grew up in the “bad old days” of HIV. Days where there was only one highly toxic treatment available. Days where funerals were common. Days of whispering in clubs with people wondering “does he have ‘it'” when someone lost weight.
For me this set up a sense of fear, a sense of paranoia, the constant worry that with one wrong step, I too could be infected with an incurable disease.
Over time and training my mindset around HIV changed. I understood how HIV comes to be transmitted and most importantly how it could not.
Despite this conscious understanding, the heart wasn’t always a believer. There was always that overhang of anxiety when it came to sex, the “what if” factor.
What if I brushed my teeth too close to oral sex, what if that condom did break. You may be familiar with this situation?
When I learned about PrEP I knew this was not only important for myself but also for our community. We have an opportunity to be able to block HIV in a way that we can control on an individual level, independent of when we have sex or even how we have sex.
For me that shift has been life changing. I am no longer worried about HIV, I am open, I am welcoming.
In some ways I do feel some shame in how my own anxiety and worries had blocked my abilities to embrace friends and lovers living with HIV. Today those anxieties are gone.
For me PrEP has gifted me the ability to live life without the shroud of anxiety. I hope this is contagious. I hope this shift impacts my friends living with HIV. I hope my friends may no longer feel shunned or rejected.
I am mortified to think if I have ever done this on a conscious level, I know that on an unconscious level I’ve had times where worry has taken over. Today I know this is in the past.
If even for this one change, I am grateful for PrEP.
Living in love, loving all 🙂