I took PEP to avoid HIV and made it through

The final part of a diary charting one gay man’s experience with taking PEP, the cocktail of drugs which may save you from contracting HIV if taken fast enough after exposure to the virus

I took PEP to avoid HIV and made it through
06 September 2012

I’ve finished! In fact it’s been almost two weeks since my last PEP dose and, really, I’ve been putting off writing this final diary entry until now because I wanted a break from everything to do with PEP, mentally and physically.

Two weeks in and the majority of the symptoms had calmed down but I was struck by how tired I was and I think still am. I had to push that much harder to do things and maintain the image that everything was completely fine, so determined was I that the medication shouldn’t interfere with my everyday life let alone manifest itself to my friends and colleagues.

On the evening of my final dose I didn’t quite know how to feel. Obviously relief that it was coming to an end but also pride. I was proud that I’d recognised a problem, acted swiftly and seen it through, despite potential for embarrassment or side effects.

But it’s no longer the time to dwell on the negatives of taking PEP and, actually, it wasn’t too extreme an experience. One of my motivations behind writing this piece was to write a totally honest account of my experience on the medication, having almost been dissuaded from visiting the hospital to receive it after reading various accounts already online.

Yes, I had diarrhoea once, the day after I started the course. Sure, there was a slight nauseous feeling during the first few days. And feeling achy and tired? Well that was pretty much a constant but nothing I couldn’t deal with for a month.

And there’s my point. PEP was all well and good when I knew there was an endpoint.

Someone right now may well be reading the same accounts I read a month and a half ago and deciding that, despite having an ‘accident’ or getting ‘caught in the moment’ with someone of questionable HIV status, it just isn’t worth the aggro for a month.

Six weeks down the line, a two-minute pin prick test at a sexual health clinic and it could be aggro for the rest of your life. It’s not worth taking risks with your life.

Obviously not all exposure to fluids should lead to you requesting PEP but it is recommended that you do so if:

The status of your sexual partner is unclear
The states of your sexual partner is positive
The type of sexual activity that took place is also important as some practises are more risky than others.

Ultimately, if you feel anxious or nervous for any reason you should visit a sexual health clinic straight away or, if out of hours, your local A&E. A doctor will assess whether you really do need PEP and either way it will go some way to easing your mind.

Whilst I made it clear in the first entry to this column my reasons for remaining anonymous I do hope that readers will take this as a frank and honest account of my time on PEP and that somewhere, someone will read and make a decision based on my experience.

I’m now looking forward to getting on with 2012 armed with a fresh perspective and a supply of extra-strong condoms!

Read part one and part two of the diary here. Find out more about PEP here.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Amnesty asks Moldova to lift LGBT march ban

Human rights charity Amnesty International has said Moldovan councils’ ban on LGBTI demonstrations violates obligations and stirs up hostility
No thumbnail available

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck says NFL ready for its first openly gay player

If 'it makes them happy and it makes their life easier, than I think they should do it'
No thumbnail available

Student Pride returning for its 10th birthday in February – details revealed

Tenth annual LGBTI event takes place in London; celebrations include a screening of Boy Meets Girl
No thumbnail available

Maroon 5 singer hates the word 'bromance'

The Voice coach Adam Levine says bromance is dead, call it friendship
No thumbnail available

Suspect identified in beating of gay couple hit over heads with chair in NYC restaurant

NYPD is seeking Bayna El-Amin in beating caught on video by customer which then went viral
No thumbnail available

Family Research Council fellow blames Isla Vista shooting on gay marriage

A senior fellow with the anti-gay Family Research Council has tried to connect gay marriage to the Isla Vista shooting by heterosexual student and virgin Elliot Rodgers
No thumbnail available

Drunken man gets $474 fine for attacking bystander he believed to be gay at Dallas airport

Attack by McCleish Christmas Benham went viral after being captured on YouTube by fellow traveler
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Catholic Church speaks out in favour of anti-gay equality law clause

Our laws as they stand are having an unjust and disproportionate impact on those of religious faith', says Northern Ireland Bishop
No thumbnail available

Philadelphia hate crime suspects claim innocence

'All three defendants steadfastly maintain their innocence'