How many stories have you heard of people who are confronted with the reality of HIV when their ‘committed’ partners confess that they’ve cheated? How many times do you find that friends share stories of guys who ‘don’t feel comfortable wearing a condom’ or they ‘just want to feel what it’s like’ without one?
Well, if anything, no matter what situation they or you find yourselves in, PrEP is one way of making sure that the next time you say, “It will never happen to me”, you’re telling the truth.
PrEP stops HIV by killing the virus as it enters your body. You can then feel free to ‘try without a condom’ but remember that you’re still at risk for other STIs, so using multiple forms of protection, you’re protecting yourself from all kinds of unwanted surprises.
When I went to the Health4Men Clinic in Yeoville for the first time, it was completely out of my comfort zone, but when I left the clinic I realised that I should have gone a lot sooner! Firstly, I was blown away by how much I didn’t know. Google can only inform you about the things you’re looking for, but a medical professional will make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Though at times we feel that we’re bombarded with sex-education from our primary school days, taking the initiatives to have your own questions answered, and getting TESTED, is the best gift you could ever give yourself. When you know your status, you’ll know how to protect yourself.
Have you ever thought, as a man, that you could also be on ‘the pill’; a blue pill, one that can save your life every time you ‘make a mistake’ or every time you think ‘he looks clean’? I’ve never been someone who’s lived outside of my comfort zone, and the stigmas around HIV still exist, but throwing ignorance to the wind, I started my first course of PrEP.
You don’t have to be promiscuous to be on PrEP because there are multiple ways of getting infected. With my visit to the Health4Men Clinic, they even drew blood to make sure that I know more than just my HIV status. They tested for syphilis (as a lot of people don’t even know that they have it), Hepatitis B and kidney infection.
PrEP has had no side effects for me, so honestly, I thought why not? Also, did you know PrEP is FREE to those who qualify in certain clinics in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria?
I’m in a committed relationship and even if I’m exposed by helping someone who has a cut, I know I’m not in danger of infection. Protect yourself and find out if you qualify for free PrEP on your next clinical visit.
Martin Headger is a contributing writer for the Anova Health Institute and these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.
PrEP is available for free at Ivan Toms Clinic, 1 Portswood Rd, Greenpoint Cape Town as well as at the Health4Men Services Clinic in Yeoville, Corner Kenmere Road and Hopkins Street, Yeoville, Johannesburg. For more information, visit www.health4men.co.za.