So with the wider use of Prep (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) HIV transmissions amongst gay men have dropped significantly, they have decreased from 2,060 in 2014-15 to 1,700 in 2015-16, while in London there was an even steeper drop.
Where as I applaud this as a good thing, I remember the days of 1500 gay men a year in the UK dying of HIV related conditions and at the same time rampant homophobia and stigma around HIV and AIDS.
However, at the same tine there has been a rise in gay men being diagnosed with one or more STIS, now both gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and syphilis can prove to be quite nasty if un diagnosed and or untreated. All three of these can be asymptomatic in the early stages and can lead to blindness in the case of Chlamydia, not to mention if you’ve not been tested to passing it on to others. I haven’t talked about the Heps B and C neither of which is picnic.
Now the whole point of Prep is to give up condom usage, as if used correctly will stop transmission of HIV now there are some caveats here such as your partner having as lower viral load as possible and you taking the meds regularly. Now I suspect that a significant number of gay men see this as a get out of jail free card pretty much like they sae Pep. I can’t help but wonder if with that and the lack of challenging risky behaviour we are encouraging an caviar attitude to taking personal responsibility in our community after all we can take pills or inject something or snort something to make us horny (i.e. forcing sex on the mind and body) now we can take something that will prevent HIV (which is a good thing if done correctly) however if guys are repeatedly taking risks and having large no’s of sexual partners then are the various sexual health agencies and NHS services complicit in supporting men to maintain unhealthy lifestyles as the behaviour remains all we have done is reduce the risk of the behaviour and we don’t really know of the longer term issues, I am talking about 5 or 10 years usage of Prep.
Now surely, we should still be focusing on working on guys to lead healthy lives? I feel that Prep is just masking the many issues that are inherent in the gay male community that many people are afraid to address out of fear of being judgemental. Now showing concern for people engaged in risky behaviour isn’t being judgemental its being kind and caring, however a significant number of gay men are so addicted to various behaviours and so afraid of dealing with their issues that see anything short of total condolence of these behaviours is seen as homophobic and being judgemental.
Now we have in the UK and most of Europe been granted total equality with our heterosexual peers so isn’t time we stopped blaming homophobia for our communities’ shortcomings and our issues and we started to take responsibility for ourselves, beginning with sorting out our mental health.
By all means continue using PrEP, but agencies and service should also be being a little more provactive rather than just dishing pills out have some conditions attached like regualr sessions where guys talk about their sex lives and challenged when its clear they are leading unhealthy lifestyle.