Now Reading
Former cop turned politician Brian Paddick on his PrEP use and issues with condoms

Former cop turned politician Brian Paddick on his PrEP use and issues with condoms

Brian Paddick, Barron Paddick

Brian Paddick, the former UK policeman turned Liberal Democrat life peer, has spoken out about why he’s on PrEP.

PrEP is the daily medication that HIV negative people take to prevent acquiring the virus. It is not yet available on the British NHS. However, the health service is currently running a trial with around 10,000 participants, to test the drug’s cost efficiency.

Paddick, 60, says he is on the trial.

‘I was having one of my regular check-ups at Dean Street a few years ago when the nurse suggested I would be a good candidate for a new PrEP trial, called PROUD,’ he writes on the website PrEPster.

‘I had always had problems using condoms, which either meant it just wasn’t happening or if it was, it wasn’t going to last very long!

‘I’d also had a couple of close calls with HIV positive sexual partners, one a long-term partner who didn’t find out until afterwards, and one who didn’t say anything until I found out.

‘Initially I was in the 50% control group who were not going to get PrEP for a year, but the initial results were so startlingly positive, they decided to give it to everyone.

‘Sex without a condom was a calculated risk for me but one that seriously limited my sex life. I had had the full range of curable sexually transmitted infections over the years but HIV was a different proposition.’

‘An undetectable viral load means you can’t pass it on’

Although he knew that he was gay, Paddick was married to a woman between 1983 and 1988. He says this may have saved his life at a time when AIDS first appeared. He publicly came out as gay in the early 00s, and retired from London’s Metropolitan Police Service in 2007.

Since that time, he has entered politics. He stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012.

‘I was married at the time of the first diagnosed cases of AIDS and I honestly question whether I would still be alive if I had not been “playing it straight” at that time.

‘Of course, HIV is no longer the threat it used to be and having an undetectable viral load means you can’t pass it on but what if your sexual partner isn’t aware that they’re positive? Getting checked, and getting treatment if you are positive, is so important.’

The initial NHS PROUD trial of PrEP has been superseded by a second trial named IMPACT. Paddick has been a participant in both trials.

‘I’m still careful about who I have sex with. At a minimum I want their mobile number so at least we can communicate with each other if a test comes back positive.

‘It is so annoying to get an STI, not least because it puts you out of action for a while, but at least it’s all treatable. Why do sexual partners leave it until just after the clinic has closed before telling me they’ve got “some bad news” or on the Thursday before a Bank Holiday when you’re going abroad?

‘PrEP doesn’t stop other STIs, so it’s not an alternative to condoms, but if you’re not using condoms anyway, it saves you a lot of anxiety and the NHS a lot of money if they don’t have to treat you for the rest of your life because you have HIV.’

‘Helps to de-stigmatise PrEP, HIV and sex’

Dr Will Nutland, co-founder of information service PrEPster, tells GSN that it’s vitally important that people talk openly about PrEP use and sexual health.

‘Talking openly to our friends, sexual partners and family members can be one of the most effective ways of sharing information about PrEP.

‘As more of us who are open about our PrEP use, and the reasons why PrEP works for us, more and more people are learning about the potential for PrEP as one of several ways to prevent HIV. Having open discussions about PrEP, for those of us who can, helps to de-stigmatise PrEP, HIV and sex.

‘PrEPster warmly welcomes Brian’s recent open and honest discussions about why PrEP works for him.’

Nutland and other members of the PrEPster team will be out and about at UK Black Pride in Vauxhall, London, this Sunday, distributing PrEP information packs.

See also

Why we need to stop slut-shaming gay men who want condomless sex

What is PrEP on-demand dosing and is it suitable for me?

How do we know HIV undetectable equals untransmittable?