The impact PrEP has had on my life

Gordon is a single gay man living in Scotland taking PrEP. Read his experience of accessing PrEP and the difference it has made to his life.

This story is only one of many and it does not represent the experiences of everyone potentially at risk of HIV. If you have a different story, we'd like to hear it - please do get in touch.

Finding out about PrEP

Three years ago I bumped into a Scottish friend in a bar in Berlin who was talking about this drug called Truvada which was known to help prevent the transmission of HIV. When I heard this my eyes immediately lit up. Since then I have been on a mission to find out more about PrEP.

Chatting online I came across guys who were participating in the PROUD study - a trial that had been set up in various locations in England see how effective PrEP was. At the same time I was aware of a study in France and Canada. Each study took a different approach; those on the PROUD study took a daily dose of Truvada, while the French /Canadian study was based on using PrEP when necessary. From what I read it was found that both were extremely effective. As a result I have been asking for PrEP at my local sexual health clinic for the past year.

Accessing PrEP privately

Eventually, I saw a doctor who was able to privately prescribe one months’ supply of Truvada intending to use it when I was going to have sex. I knew it was expensive, but it only registered when I had to pay for it at the pharmacy counter - £400 - WOW! I treated my wee bottle of Truvada like gold. I stashed it away in my wee secret cupboard and didn’t use it every time I should have.

As part of an agreement with my doctor I attended regular check-ups. When we met again we discussed the cost and I was advised about generic PrEP, which is a comparable drug used in the same way but without the trade name. There is still a cost but it is much, much cheaper. The doctor gave me the addresses of safe websites where I could buy it online without a prescription. I now take PrEP daily to maximise its effect.

The difference PrEP has made to my life

I would consider myself as HIV aware having lived through the worst of the HIV / AIDS pandemic when I was in my teens/early twenties. It is still an important issue for me. Taking PrEP has allowed me to take control of my sexual health, and therefore both my physical and mental health. I no longer have to ask myself ‘What did I do last night? Did I take a risk? Should I be worried?’

I have a better state of mind without the worry of HIV. And as a result I am looking after my physical health more - going to the gym, watching what I eat. I can live a healthier life and be who I want to be. I am happier and have more confidence in myself and who I am.