Forty-six-year-old Oshay was making breakfast in her Newark kitchen in May 2013 when her boyfriend came downstairs and dropped a bomb.
“I have HIV,” he told her.
Her first reaction was, “It can’t be.” After all, the couple had been together for a decade.
They’d had sex without condoms lots of times. After the shock wore off, she said she headed to the closest hospital for a rapid HIV test.
The result? Negative.
Oshay, who asked that her full name not be used, said she didn’t understand how it was possible, and said she wasn’t even sure she believed her boyfriend had HIV — he does — but she wanted to stay negative. So when she saw a flier for a clinical trial asking HIV-negative women to take HIV drugs to prevent transmission, she jumped at it.
NJ women participate in PrEP trial
Oshay is one of 25 women in Newark who so far have participated in research into the prevention approach, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The hope is that it can prevent the HIV-negative people from getting the virus that leads to AIDS as well as — or better — than condoms.
Recent guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make clear that PrEP is the newest and perhaps best option to prevent the spread of HIV.
And while some gay men have been leery of the once-daily pill, straight women are signing up in record numbers — especially in New Jersey, according to Gilead Sciences, the California-based company that makes the HIV drug Truvada.