Becoming PrEP Positive+

Today, an article was published in the Star Observer by The Institute of Many’s Nic Holas, featuring PrEP advocate Steve Spencer discussing his recent HIV diagnosis. Steve discussed openly his experience being a person living with HIV who was diagnosed despite his PrEP use.

Image supplied to  Star Observer

Image supplied to Star Observer

So what does this mean for Steve?

Read his article and find out! Steve is fortunate to have a great HIV+ peer network, and live in an area of the world where good access to testing and treatment means that he can be happy, healthy, and remain undetectable and unable to pass on the virus.

So what does this mean for PrEP?

Well, not much that it didn’t already mean before. Hundreds of thousands of people globally are provided powerful protection from PrEP - and only a VERY small handful of people have experienced a seroconversion despite PrEP use. Steve’s story is unique in that he was using PrEP On-Demand to protect himself, taking PrEP medication before and after sex.

So what does this mean for PrEP On-Demand?

While Daily PrEP is certainly more well known and popular, PrEP On-Demand is as effective as taking PrEP daily. They are studied and evidence based methods of taking PrEP to prevent HIV, and both ways work for different people. One person acquring HIV despite On Demand PrEP use does not make it a failure or a ‘rogue’ method of taking PrEP.

We’ve previously talked about How to Take PrEP - whether that’s Daily PrEP or On-Demand.

Got more concerns? The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation (AFAO) has produced this On Demand PrEP fact sheet

Dr. Darren Russell, clinical advisor for Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) who consulted on Steve’s case reiterated PrEP’s protective powers and clarified some points with Damon L. Jacobs for HIV Plus Mag

So what does this mean for me?

We take PrEP to prevent HIV. When that (rarely) doesn’t go to plan, for some of us that raises questions and even concerns. That’s understandable. You want to know the tools you are using are working for you. Know that PrEP works - and PAN are here to discuss those concerns should you need to. We suggest that if you’re talking about any person who has disclosed their positive HIV status (publicly or privately), we urge you to do so with kindness, respect, and love.

We encourage you to talk about someone as if they were in the room next to you, perhaps sharing a beer at the pub. We encourage anyone thinking of taking PrEP to talk with their doctor and make the decision that works best for you.

Looking at starting PrEP? Talk to your doctor at your next appointment about starting PrEP, and use your peer networks, and groups like PAN and PrEP’D for Change to share PrEP experiences in making the decision about whether PrEP could work for you.

PAN is, as always, available to answer and PrEP questions via email, or via the PAN Facebook group.

Steve was one of the founding members of PAN during his time in Melbourne and we thank him not only for his service with our team, and the amazing work he has done to improve awareness of and access to PrEP but also to dismantling HIV stigma.

At PAN we celebrate Steve’s decision to be candid and public about his diagnosis, just as we celebrate each person who decides that information relating to their diagnosis is nobody’s business but their own.

Steve, we wish you all the best!

The PAN Team 💙

Michael Whelan