PrEP is controversial even on the gay scene. Does the drug encourage dangerous ‘barebacking’ or could it be the game-changer that wipes out HIV for good? Matt Cain decided to take it for three months and find out...
When I first heard about the HIV-prevention drug PrEP – pre-exposure prophylaxis – I had mixed feelings. The NHS is already at crisis point and cannot afford to pay for certain cancer treatments, so why should it pay for PrEP? Currently, PrEP is only available on the NHS in Scotland and not in England and Wales, and it remains controversial even among readers of the gay magazine Attitude. “Why should my taxes pay for these sluts to have bareback sex?” is a typical comment. But I was worried that my reaction was the result of anti-gay conditioning, being brought up to think that I didn’t deserve the same rights as the rest of society, and I wanted to challenge this by taking the drug for three months to find out more.
I am lucky enough to be able to afford to buy PrEP legally online. Within the EU, PrEP is still under licence from the US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, and the NHS has no choice but to buy the drug from them, under the brand name Truvada, at a cost for each user of £400 per month. I order “generic” PrEP from a Bangkok clinic recommended on iwantprepnow.co.uk. It is priced at about £40 a month and I buy a three-month supply. A few weeks later three boxes of PrEP arrive in the post.
Read on at the Guardian