Two birds holding a PrEP pill in their beaks and looking deeply into each other's eyes.

Sexual Liberation and PrEP

Sexual liberation automatically brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s counter-culture of "free love, sex, and drugs."

It’s a freedom that gets romanticized over and over in movies and TV shows. I often wonder what it was like to have lived through that tumultuous period. Would our experiences be similar?

Birth control and PrEP: a few parallels

One medication that revolutionized sex in the United States during that time was the birth control pill.

It at once gave women the freedom to choose when and with whom they had a child without having to consider if their partner wore a condom.

Bound up in the sexual liberation is this reclamation of agency over one’s body. When I think about PrEP, I find some similar parallels.

Freedom

To have agency over one’s body is a definition of freedom. Like the birth control pill, PrEP gives agency to individuals to make choices that will protect them from acquiring HIV.

Admittedly, part of the reason I take this medication is for this freedom. I still feel that there is a sense of shame surrounding the use of PrEP. This drug only protects against HIV and it still makes me think hard about my willingness to expose myself to other STIs.

No matter your sexual orientation: whenever we have sex without condoms, that risk is there.

Stigma, complex emotions, and PrEP

I typically don’t make the logical progression that if I take PrEP, then can afford to have sex without a condom. I am glad, however, that if a condom breaks or slips off that I have been taking PrEP regardless. It feels like the stigma begins somewhere in the first sentence of the paragraph.

Condom usage above all else

Even though I take PrEP, I can’t afford to have sex without a condom. In that phrase, there is implied shame about how I feel when I have neglected to use a condom. It points to the anxiety that comes about. The cycle of worry that comes with going to the clinic and waiting for a test result.

I think this emotional pathway for me is based on my own lived experience. So maybe what I call stigma may just be my reaction to my own life experiences.

However, I still have to recognize that the hierarchy in my own thought process is to put condom usage above all else, compounded with the feelings of guilt or shame that come into play if I neglect to use it.

PrEP liberates me by giving me a choice

I feel like the advent of PrEP does fuel sexual exploration and I think it is healthy. PrEP also makes me think critically about my sexual health values individually. It makes me think about what role it is playing in my life.

So in many ways, PrEP is liberating. Not so much in the "free love, sex, and drugs" type of way. PrEP liberates me by giving me a choice.

Through these experiences, I come to know myself better, and hopefully, it will be my own decisions in relationships that will steer me on a path to health and happiness in them.

This article got really deep y’all. Please let me know what’s on your mind. Peace and love. Comment Below!

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