By Andrew Goyvaerts
When I first heard of Truvada being use as PrEP, it must be admitted that a little part of me recoiled in terror. What about resistant strains, what about other sexually transmitted infections I thought, but the focus here is the fight against HIV, not other STI’s.
When I broke the concept down in my mind it occurred to me how anyone using PrEP would merely be seeking to protect their health, and protect themselves from unfavourable consequences that arise after having unprotected sex, or after traditional methods, such as condoms, fail. This subsequently lead me to form the opinion that the concept behind PrEP is the same concept behind contraceptive methods such as the pill or implant, both of which, and others, are available on the NHS, as they should be.
The contraceptive and preventative concept both being the same and aimed at addressing the unfavourable consequences of sex made me sure it would not be long before decision makers within the health services would realise the same thing and make PrEP available, however, this week the NHS made crystal clear that they do not currently hold this view.
So how do we interpret this? Are we to take it that the responsibility of our national health service concerning preventative measures and sex stops at birth control?
Stop the population growing while standing by with the ability to prevent the acquiring of a chronic illness, is a very strange message to send out. For me, it feels like a line is being established that distinguishes between the type of preventative measures the NHS are willing to provide concerning sex, with most of them benefiting heterosexual activities. While PrEP will protect everyone, gay, straight, bisexual, there is no denying the additional benefit it will be for men who have sex with men.
Had this treatment been available in the past there is no doubt in my mind I would have sought it out. For me, it’s too late but for the people who are to be diagnosed in future, anyone of whom could be a friend, brother, sister, uncle or niece of those who fail to make PrEP available, it’s not.
I won’t waste time going into the facts behind PrEP, they’re out there, the NHS have seen them so it would be a waste of time for me to do so, instead as someone who has what this is trying to prevent I implore upon executives within the NHS to do the right thing, just think about it, you could actually get into bed in a few years time and before going to sleep, say to yourself, I helped save thousands of people from acquiring HIV. What an amazing feeling that would be to have and legacy to leave behind.
I’m not going to diminish my life by saying living with HIV is this, that or the other in the hope that it will strike some human cord within you, I’m quite happy in my life, fairly healthy (I have another chronic condition which in truth can cause more issues for me than HIV has), but it is still not a situation I would wish anyone to be in. The treatment we have today is amazing but its not a cure and until there is one, this diagnosis stays with me and at times, it can be a lot to carry.
Be the person who ends this, for the love of god it’s been over thirty years, enough is enough.