My PrEP Story
The first time I heard of PrEP was five or six years ago. I remember looking online for science research studies to join because I was broke and had some real bills to pay. I happened to come across the Ruth R. Rothstein CORE Center in Chicago, Illinois.
What was so great about this place is that it is entirely dedicated to servicing adolescents and adults who are at risk and living with HIV. It has everything from a testing clinic, pharmacy, outpatient care, dental services, and a research center.
PrEP for HIV prevention
When I first walked in, I was greeted by a young study coordinator, Pedro. He walked me through what PrEP was and what it wasn’t. Explained to me simply what the effects of PrEP are and how the study was looking at web-based tools to keep people taking the pills on a regular basis. My immediate reaction was like ‘This is birth control of HIV.’
Taking PrEP requires commitment
It really was, and I found out how hard it can be to take every day. Everyone has a different way of moving through sexual relationships and romantic encounters and, for me, my tendency for engaging in sexual behavior could be described as ‘seasonal’. Winter is usually a dry or a cuffing season when I would more than likely be with a stable partner. The summer would be a time to be free as a butterfly.
But PrEP requires some commitment to taking it regularly. My provider told me PrEP works really really well when taken every day. If you take it 7 days a week, you’ll more than likely experience a high rate of protection. But the more inconsistent you are, the more likely that that protection will decrease.
Additional benefits of using PrEP
We’re human though and, through these first encounters with PrEP, I realized a few benefits outside of just the medical benefit of taking the medication. PrEP requires you see a physician every 3 months to get a renewal. Talking to a medical professional about sexual health is absolutely one of the best benefits. At first, it was awkward. Sex is a very personal thing, but over time I developed real relationships with the doctors and nurses. I felt like they listen and gave great life advice as well as medical service.
A welcoming space for PrEP and HIV services
From the first encounter at CORE center, I felt welcomed and treated with dignity and respect. As an advocate, I hope you find a community of health professionals to guide you on your journey through PrEP and HIV services and in my first few posts, I would like to spotlight a few individuals at the Ruth R. Rothstein CORE Center in Chicago.
All good things fam!
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?