When I fell in love with a man who was HIV-positive, I was rather nervous. He was on medication, so he was undetectable. That means that the level of virus in his blood was too low to transmit it because of medication. Therefore it was safe to have unprotected sex with him, yet I still felt the need to take medication that prevents the transmission of HIV myself. That kind of medication is called PrEP. If you take it, the chance of becoming infected is very small.
At the beginning of a relationship, you still have to get to know each other. Where is this going; what do we have to offer each other? If a new partner is HIV-positive, my safety still depends on whether or not he takes his medication consistently. So in this phase, I like to be in charge and in control.
I went to the GP and explained the situation. She had never prescribed PrEP before. I sometimes hear stories that general practitioners are reluctant to prescribe it to someone who is otherwise healthy. It has side effects, in my case on my intestines, and on top of that, the GP has to do extra tests for sexually transmitted diseases and keep an eye on the kidney function. Some GPs are like: you can also use a condom, right? My GP did not comment on this. Neither about the fact that my boyfriend was ‘undetectable’. I simply got the right help.
I did have to pay for it myself. It cost 60 euros a month at the time. I could afford it, and it gave me peace of mind, so I thought it was worth it. Later on, I found out that it was cheaper at the GGD (Municipal Health Services). There I pay 7.50 euros per month. That is quite a big difference, so I switched from the GP to the GGD.
Meanwhile, my relationship ended. Now I no longer take PrEP all the time but only when needed, when I have sexual contact. It is generally casual, and I see PrEP as an extra precaution in case the condom tears or breaks. I also get tested for STIs at the GGD every three months, that is part of the process. It is all part of the right care. I am fairly pragmatic. I go to the doctor, present my problem and expect a solution. I always get one. I am happy with that.
Dominique is 43 years old and an internal control manager