Sunday, 18 November 2018

" Frisky Wales"

Years ago I had a Hiv Test. I had never put myself in a position of risk at any part of my single life but a partner that I had split up with had told me he had slept with other men and so, after a discussion with my GP I took the test. The clinic in Sheffield was alien but professional enough and although I was dreadfully nervous that something could have been amiss I was sort of unsurprised that I was clear of any STI .

Today things have moved on to a new level. According to the official public Health Wales website " Frisky Wales"  people can protect themselves from HIV by taking a medication called
PreP. The offical site states
PRep is for people without HIV who are at very high risk of getting it from their behaviour or their potentual exposureto HIV infection , so if you are HIV negative and dont always use condoms then PreP could help refuce your risk getting HIV" 
What PreP doesnt do is to protect people from the plethora of other sexually transmitted diseases that are around and that is a worry. Could PreP give some a feeling of invincibility ?

I guess it could be argued either way. Each to their own I suppose
Im just glad I'm not part of that world. I had just one experience of being tested and feeling vunerable and I dont want to go there again.
For some its a part of life.





82 comments:

  1. I wonder about the feeling of invincibility too. And am glad that my old fart status and boring lifestyle means those stresses are not part of my life. I don't think I would cope at all well.

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  2. Barbara Anne1:09 am

    Whole life, one partner, no STDs - phew!

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  3. PrEP is being marketed here almost as some sort of panacea. It seems it might be a license for some to engage in high risk behaviors with no thought of consequences.

    I had an HIV test about twenty years ago. The wait for the results was a bit stressful.

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    Replies
    1. Yes there is that arguement going on here

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  4. Cheryl2:08 am

    If only medication had been available sooner many wonderful people would stil be alive today.

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    Replies
    1. Same could be said with most meds cheryl
      ...

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  5. Anonymous2:11 am

    I used to work as a Health Advisor/ Nurse in a sexual health clinic. I can say that people diagnosed with HIV came from all walks of life and sexualities. Some people were aware of risk and carried on or didn't think they could be infected and others were uninformed and vulnerable - not only about HIV but also other infections. Syphilis is still rare but out there and gonorrhoea is more common ( and nasty due to its increasing antibiotic resistance). Chlamydia amongst young heterosexual people is bread and butter stuff for clinics. The good news is that HIV is a treatable condition. You can have a normal lifespan providing you follow the medication regimes - I think this knowledge potentially also adds to notions of invincibility - that HIV isn't the death sentence portrayed in those 80s tv public health adverts (remember them?) featuring icebergs etc. Unfortunately there are always people who knowingly play sexual Russian roulette - it's the innocent unknowing partner who one always felt sorry for.

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    Replies
    1. An interesting read

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    2. Syphilis has had a revival in my area. It's strong and it's nasty.

      I've seen three cases of in eyes over the last couple of years.

      Genital Warts (HPV) huge outbreaks in the over 35s who missed out on the vaccine.

      The PreP medication is being marketed quite aggressively on American TV.

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  6. For work, we have the test done every 3-5 years, and while I'm sure it'll be negative, there's always that "what if" in my mind.... But my job as a dental hygienist, I'm no longer "as worried" about an HIV exposure as I was years ago when we were first learning about it. Patients seem more upfront in letting us know if they are positive. I'm more worried about getting hepatitis and that nasty and ugly cold bug that patients don't mind spreading around.

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    Replies
    1. Gosh...is that the same for
      nurses too

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    2. In my nursing career, I've had one needlestick injury. The patient was 80 and her family refused to have her tested. It wasn't pleasant that they cared so little about my health. The spousal unit wasn't thrilled with having to use condoms for all the months of testing I went through.

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  7. I had all sorts of tests done with my pregnancies, being a high risk mama. The Hiv test being one of a veritable plethora. It felt weird, but I did understand the doctors were doing their best to ensure good outcomes... All went well and I am the proud mama of two fine and handsome young men.

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  8. I had an HIV test many years ago as I had a blood transfusion. I had it done privately and it was negative. Not long after this I applied for a mortgage and discovered that having the test automatically meant I was denied the mortgage.

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  9. I worked in public health years ago when the AIDS/HIV horror was just coming to light. I had the misfortune to get poked by a wrongly discarded needle in the furniture. I had to have mandatory HIV tests every year for 5 years, then every 3 for the next 6. It was horrifying. I was so humiliated by the looks I got from the staff at the public lab.

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    Replies
    1. The stigma seems much more reduced now karen

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    2. A neighbour of mine actually started working at the lab. (We live in a very small, small minded town.)
      She was GREAT. She did my last test (on the 10th anniversary of the prick) and congratulated me effusively on coming out on the other side.
      My closest friend died of this horrible disease. He lived with my children and I and taught them so much. My children have all gone into social fields from his influence.

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  10. Gah I had one about 20 years ago at the insistence of my partner who was from Africa and totally paranoid. HE wouldn't get one mind you.
    Yes the PreP thing is a worry in that it is not meant to replace using condoms, but idiots will be idiots.

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  11. Syphilis is now on the rise again in the UK because of PreP.

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  12. I don't feel competent to voice opinion one way or the other. Over the years, from the early 80's on, I did procedures, inserting arterial catheters in scores of people with HIV....single gloved. I've been tested a few times, never been stuck with a contaminated needle, but I've also done manual CPR, including mouth to mouth ventilation. It's out of the area of my expertise. You know better than I, John. I'd bow to your opinion on this.

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    1. Out of mine too. If it helps reduce illness and death so be it. But im not sure

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  13. I'm pretty sure I was HIV tested during pregnancy. The interesting thing is hep B was almost unheard of then and not tested for at all. My husband was/is a carrier and we never knew. I still feel strange about that, twenty years on from diagnosis

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    Replies
    1. My husbands diagnosis, that is. I never got it

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    2. Theres a story there

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    3. Hubby comes from Malaysia where hep B is endemic. It was passed to him at or before birth and he never knew anything about it.
      He passed a medical to immigrate to Australia and it wasn't picked up.
      I was married to him for 7 years before he went to donate blood and found out he couldn't be a donor because of his hep B status.
      At that point he told me his sister knew she was positive and had told him to get tested but he thought she was being dramatic and never got the test or said a word to me.

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    4. His head in the sand,,like so many

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  14. We of a certain age saw and experienced the devastation HIV caused. Younger people have not. I don't blame them for having a different and more laid back attitude, and if PreP means they can have fun like I certainly did in pre HIV days, then I don't have a problem with that. Kind of related, I heard the other day that after WWI, Australian soldiers had to wait some time for vacant space on ships to return to Australia. Getting food to Australia was the most important thing. A good number of those returning suicided because they were infected with syphilis and could not imagine facing their wives, girlfriends and families. STDs....always been such a problem.

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  15. What do you think of the arguement that PreP may preclude condom use?

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    1. Using PRep,without keeping in mind the other consequences of having sex without condoms, could be likened to -
      someone thinking a few drinks will relax them(a good thing), without taking into account that it can also inhibit their ability to make good decisions(a potentially deadly thing).

      Misuse of,or overindulging in; drinking, eating, too strenuous exercise,etc., and a drug that may encourage having unprotected sex,-can all have a lot of consequences.


      Still, just because a few will use poor judgment, what's useful in such important ways is likely best to promote, as are all healthy practices. I just would not like to see society begin to make assumptions about PRep's use,and those that take it,that might discourage it's prolific use or it's manufacturers from advertising it.

      Once something begins to have a stigma or bad reputation attached to it, it's hard to overcome that. Which is one reason too many died from AIDS instead of going to clinics where they could having received treatment.They dared not be seen publicly seeking treatment for something with a stigma that could cost them acceptance,their job or promotion to a better one at their place of employment,marriage,social standing...

      Truly,I am not trying to be argumentative or dispute your valid concerns, John. I only hope that the most possible good will result from the invention of a drug with such wonderful potential to save lives. - Mary

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    2. No I agree Mary , I think, the informed will realise that it is vital to use comdoms too because of other STI's ( and then is PreP therefore more redundant?) others who take more risks may feel it acceptable to be potentially open to things other than HIV
      ..ANOTHER more risk taking group may. Not even think of other consequences..but that was always the case....

      It's a knotty , grey area

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  16. I found out I had an HIV test after the fact during my last pregnancy. Makes sense I suppose since, as the dr. said, he was going to be dealing with my blood. The really "fun" time though was having to get another test after about 20 years of monogamous (on my part) marriage after my husband, who had been working in Africa, got drunk one night (every night?) and woke up with a prostitute giving him a blow job - and he didn't remembered a thing! Thankfully he never came near me and I (and he) had all the necessary tests which proved negative. Oh and then he got himself a "girlfriend" for 3 months before the end of our marriage and never told me about it! Glad I'm well shot of that piece of shit I can tell you. And I'm sitting here now with money in the bank (never had any when he was around), in my jammies with a cup of tea reading happily away. Yeah, I think I'll pass on all that other stuff.

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    Replies
    1. You should have been informed before the blood was tested

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  17. When my daughter was at college she came home giggling because the whole college was going to be tested for Chlamydia apparently it was an annual purge and they got free tea and biscuits . Her comment ? "doesnt Chlamydia sound like someone off Made in Chelsea" very apt

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    Replies
    1. I think that her sisters in "King Lear" were Gonorrhoea and Ronald Reagan.

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  18. It was routine in Spain for pregnant women to be tested so I had to have one ... All clear. After Jess was born though, my Dr was horrified to hear that through my working abroad days I hadn't had a smear test... for years !!! The results were awful, worst case pre cancer cells growing, I was rushed in to hospital. Years of bad cells growing followed and I ended up choosing to have a hysterectomy, luckily had been able to have our lovely Joe by then.
    It was such a shock and I was forever telling my female friends to keep up with smear tests afterwards xx

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    1. I grew up in Canada. In the 80s it was a yearly test. Never thought anything about it. Wound up on a British Army base due to marriage and rocked up and made an appointment for my yearly Pap test. Dr. was horrified that I expected to have it done yearly and that I was under 25. Never understood why.

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  19. I had an HIV test about twenty years ago.
    I had an affair with a man who’s promiscuous Imho. He had way more partners than I did. He used condos every time( 4 times) however.
    I had very severe diarrhea soon after, and I thought I had HIV. I cried my eyes out.
    The yeast infection in my digestive system caused me diarrhea for three weeks. HIV test came back negative.
    Finally I googled my symptoms and came across yeast infection in digestive systems, took a few high grade probiotic, got well, and never have another affair.

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    1. Oh the worry of lack of knowledge coupled with google search.....bad bedfellows xx

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  20. I remember the first person who I knew who died, a construction manager, One of the nicest people. I am told he liked to be the center of attention at the party. If we knew then, what we know now, maybe he would be thinking about retirement.

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  21. Baaaa! Is it possible to pick up baaaaa sexually transmitted diseases from baaaa sheep? Baaaa!

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    Replies
    1. Only if you also eat humbugs

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  22. Anonymous11:37 am

    I volunteered as a sexual assault survivor advocate for many years, including accompanying victims through the physical exam, police interviews, interacting with family members, etc. Imagine going through all this trauma, and then I need to advise the victim to have an HIV test. So many faces, so many reactions - life can be so cruel.

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  23. Presumably this PreP isn't available on prescription here in the UK? I'm more than a little gobsmacked that the pharmaceutical industry even thought to develop, manufacture and market such a drug, but then again it's hardly the most ethical of industries.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous4:38 pm

      You are gobsmacked that the pharmaceutical industry developed a drug that will reduce people’s chances of contracting a disease! Hmmm are you also against the flu vaccine?
      traveller

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    2. It is available su and if it saves lives all the better...but there are problems agreed

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    3. The flu vaccine is remarkably ineffective. I have extremely conflicting views over this PreP stuff, but it's interesting reading the comments.

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    4. Anonymous10:23 am

      @Su studies show that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of illness by 40-60%. I wouldn’t call that remarkably ineffective.
      traveller

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  24. I've read that PreP is popularly used in the adult film industry. Great if it stops the spread of HIV but other STDs are on the rise as a result. People DO get a feeling of invincibility.

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  25. PRep is available on prescription for high risk groups in the UK. What isn't available is a prescription for RESPONSIBILITY.

    WORLD AIDS DAY 1st December every year.

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    Replies
    1. It. Has been available in Scotland for a while

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  26. Only ever slept with one person, my husband, we're on 36 years and counting now, so I think we're safe! X

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  27. We saw the drug advertised on a television commercial, and my 25 y.o. son looked at me, puzzled. It occurred to us that while (possibly) preventing or reducing the spread of HIV, it isn't going to stop HPV, herpes, etc. and the commercial itself seemed to be saying, "have fun, take this pill and you won't have to worry." It worries me that the pharmaceutical company would imply those who take the pills don't have to protect themselves (and others) in any other way... but I imagine they'll make a fortune from the pills.

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    Replies
    1. Good point ....do they warn that the pill is not a panacea against all diseases

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  28. I watched a video this morning of Prince Harry advocating HIV testing during this national HIV testing week (in England). I've had all the kids vaccinated against HPV, and sent them into the world with a box of condoms. Somehow I resent doing all this all over again.

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  29. I've heard of frisky whales.

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  30. I haven't read the other comments so maybe someone has already said this but I do believe there is evidence out there that prep users have a climbing rate of other infections because many don't want to use protection. I have heard of gay men who won't have sex with prep users because they fear that they have other diseases. I never have sex so what do I know lol.

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    Replies
    1. Just because you haven't had sex doesn't mean you you don't know what's happening....

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  31. I lost a good friend to AIDS just over 10 years ago. Michael was only 31 years old (we were born in the same year) and he couldn't afford the medication that would have saved and prolonged his life. It's still a sorrow to me.

    I grew up under the cloud of the early days of HIV. I remember being scared yo death of it as a little girl. Nowadays some of my gay male friends treat it as no big deal, including a mutual friend of mine and Michael's who contracted HIV after Michael's death....I wanted to slap him when he casually mentioned last year that he had it, as if he was talking about catching a cold or something equally minor. :(

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    1. I grew up under that stigma of AIDS , now the threat feels more minor which does a disservice to those that sadly died of the disease

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  32. One of your earlier commenters said "one partner, no worries" or w ords to that effect. I thought so too until I found out that my husband of 30+ years was having sex with a widow of a friend he was "helping". He was furious when he found out I had had myself tested for STD' s. He just didn't get it.

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    1. Yes..I thought that to and in my case. I trusted my partner...only to have the whole house of cards come tumbling down .

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    2. I trust my husband implicitly! He's not the type to cheat, and neither am I, so I feel fairly confident!
      Of course, I may also have told him that if he strays, I shall kneecap him first, then her, then kill them both slowly! The question is, am I joking or not?

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    3. Single lass10:20 pm

      I trusted mine implicitly for over 40 years, what a fool I was. My sister trusted her husband implicitly too, for over 30 years, what a fool she was. We're both now single in our older age with much reduced income and circumstances. No man can be trusted implicitly, they're all ruled by what's in their trousers.

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    4. John, Sorry, my reply was really to 'shadypinesqltr'.

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    5. @Single lass,
      In the defence of men, not all of them are ruled by what's in their trousers! Many are, but by no means all!

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    6. And note , my reply to col was not referring to MY husband but my previous partner

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  33. I've had many HIV tests over the years, more because of my own paranoia than any very risky behavior on my part. (I've been planning to blog about this someday but haven't gotten around to it yet!) I think Prep IS a godsend to people who are truly at risk, but I worry that it lulls people into a false sense of security and as you pointed out, it doesn't protect against other incurable infections like herpes. In some ways younger people are so fortunate now to be able to fight HIV infection -- but I wish they'd remember to be cautious all the same.

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    Replies
    1. I guess it's all about balance , being informed and being responsible ...

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  34. Anonymous7:55 pm

    I am a regular reader and comment maker on your blog John but feel I have to add this comment anonymously due to the still strong stigma attached to HIV. I am female and HIV negative, however, my husband is positive due to a liason we think approximately 15 years ago (we have been together over 20 years). I hold no malice because of this, it is history. He became ill 6 years ago and nearly lost his life. HIV was the last thing we expected the diagnosis to be. Surprisingly I was found to be negative and now have a test every 6 - 12 months. Couples like us are called “serodiscordant” and not that uncommon. We live in the UK and the medication he has to take costs a tremendous amount and we simply couldn't buy it if it wasn't for the NHS. PreP also has a high cost which doesn't guarantee protection as already stated from other STD's and takes responsibility from the person. I do not take it and have not been offered it. I would say the doctors, nurses and health professionals we have dealt with and still do on an ongoing basis have been excellent in helping and continuing to help us. As someone has said HIV is no longer the death sentance it once way, however the prejudice has not diminished.

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    Replies
    1. I so agree and I so understand your need for anonymity . You are right, due to its historic misunderstanding and hysteria HIV remains a stigma..but that is changing
      I'm proud to live in a country that provides medications such as the ones your husband requires.x

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  35. It seems that PreP has returned intimate behavior to before the HIV days. If you’re in a sexual relationship you need to protect yourself from STDs. It seems rather clear to me. I have a granddaughter entering into ‘the danger years’ and she is well aware of the possible risk of sex without protection. Whether she uses her knowledge remains to be seen.

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  36. Not for me again. Once was enough.

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  37. I agree with you, John. There are worse things that HIV. My sister died of hepatitis Delta B strain. She underwent 3 liver transplants, knee replacements, kidney transplant, and on and on. She died slowly, little by little. All for one night with a new boyfriend.

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  38. I was nearly tarred and feathered when I advised the teens in our street to carry their own condoms. Oh, the cries of my darlings wouldn't have random sex made me want to hit them.
    PreP was originally a morning after pill, like waking up and not remembering if it was 5 or 10 blokes in the bed last night. Then doctors decided that it would be a good idea to take it all the time but how long before it loses its potency like antibiotics and the merry-go-round starts again.

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  39. That whole AIDs epidemic happened right about when I turned 20. Scared the hell out of me, and was one of many things that kept me from exploring my sexuality until I was in my 30s, when the urge just got too strong. I've since found out I'm HIV negative (without getting too graphic, my sexual practices are what straights might describe as "foreplay"), but have been told by my doctor I should think about taking PReP anyway just to be on the safe side.

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