A lengthy and fascinating discussion of Truvada and gay culture by RICH JUZWIAK at Gawker, which also features comments from AHF’s anti-PrEP dictator Michael Weinstein:
When I’m single, I don’t bareback on purpose usually. I practice safe sex often enough to consider myself “always safe,” even though that’s not quite true. While the overwhelming majority of times that I’ve had casual anal sex, I’ve had the wherewithal and self control to stop and put on the condom I’ve already made sure is within my reach, there have been times when pre-sex teasing has led to penetration. I’ve slipped. There are times when a few condom-free strokes don’t seem like they’d hurt anyone and we were both down so… I’ve given in to requests of full-on bare sex to orgasm on occasion, depending how hot and convincing the invitation was and how turned on I already was. It’s always the exception, though. “That’s not me,” I tell myself during and especially after.
It’s easy enough to sweep this all under the rug if nothing comes of it. If you don’t contract HIV from bareback sex, was it unsafe? What does it even matter? Just do better next time and take solace in the personal rules—somewhat informed, somewhat arbitrary—that you suspect are keeping you protected: I’ve never gotten fucked raw by anyone who wasn’t my monogamous boyfriend—I never need to bottom so badly that I’d ever let a casual acquaintance enter me without a condom.
But what hasn’t harmed you in the past, if you’re one of the luckily negative like I am, could still harm you when you do it in the future. Owning up to this fact is a crucial step in choosing to take Truvada, the antiretroviral drug cocktail of tenofovir and emtricitabine that’s manufactured by Gilead. For years, Truvada had been used to treat HIV, but in 2012 it was also approved as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), to protect HIV negative people from picking up the virus. A study suggests that taking Truvada everyday reduces HIV transmission risk by 99 percent.
For some—say barebacking enthusiasts, sex workers, or people in serodiscordant couples (in which one person is HIV positive and the other is negative)—Truvada is a no-brainer. There are plenty of us, though, who occupy a gray area, in which barebacking isn’t exactly a lifestyle, and in which contracting HIV doesn’t exactly seem like an inevitability. For those of us in that group, the kind of introspection that Truvada requires is hard.
The understanding that I might benefit from using Truvada dawned on me slowly, like I was stuck permanently at 6 a.m. for a few months. It was other guys who helped prompt my decision, like the ones I had the sense not to fuck raw when they assumed that’s what we’d be doing on first meeting, or the ones who tried to fuck me bare so casually, it was like they were going in there to check their mail. It was the guy who told me, “Yes, I’m negative—I was tested in February,” in October. It was the guy that I hooked up with who then proposed a threesome via text: “My friend said he wants to fuck raw.” This was a few texts after I told him, “I play safe,” and he said, “Yeah, me too.” A few texts later, he admitted he’d already fucked raw with our prospective third.
And it was the condoms that have come off or broken during sex, rendering that session raw anyway.