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.



No thumbnail available

Gay history of red East Germany revealed

New book lifts lid on vibrant sexuality, including gays and lesbians, in the Communist GDR
No thumbnail available

Trans Against Me! lead singer relieved by fans' cheers

Laura Jane Grace, who shot to fame as Tom Gabel, makes San Diego debut
No thumbnail available

What Pope Francis has known about gay priests

Pope Francis is making some positive comments on gay people, but there is much more to the story
No thumbnail available

Trans and gay pair rejected for cleaning jobs by boss ‘expecting women’

Transgender and gay housemates say they were turned away from job cleaning local council offices in southern England
No thumbnail available

Rylan Clark sent naked pic to Blue's Duncan James

Gay X Factor star hopes for romance with the bisexual boy band singer, but says 'he can have any man he wants'
South African lesbian teen commits suicide after mom beats her

South African lesbian teen commits suicide after mom beats her

The 18-year-old woman leaves behind a heart-breaking letter after being beaten for being a lesbian
No thumbnail available

REVIEW - Oaxen Slip restaurant, Stockholm

A dog-friendly lunch destination from a Michelin-starred team in the capital of Sweden
No thumbnail available

Tickets for Austria's Pink Lake to go on sale on 1 May

International LGBT festival on Lake Worthersee takes place in September
No thumbnail available

Lesbian actress Miriam Margolyes becomes Aussie citizen

In her citizenship ceremony, the acclaimed British actress blasted England for its class distinction and 'lack of energy'
No thumbnail available

British man faces jail for ‘gay’ play in Uganda

Two Britons living in Uganda under attack by police for putting on The River and the Mountain, a ‘banned’ play with a gay plotline