I’m a sexually active, gay, black man. I don’t always use a condom, and I used to spend a lot of time anxiously waiting for a phone call to hear my HIV test results.
But now I use an additional form of protection. A pill that’s over 90 percent effective at preventing HIV if you take it every day.
It’s kind of like birth control -- but for HIV. It took me a while to work it into my routine. Beyond the added responsibility, I constantly face misconceptions. When I tell people I’m interested in that I’m on the medication, they ask, “Oh -- do you have something? Are you HIV positive?”
So I try not to let anyone see me when I take my pill. I pop it in my mouth really quickly to make sure no one assumes the worst.
The drug is called Truvada. It requires a prescription and it’s expensive -- more than $1,000 a month unless you’re part of a study that gives it out for free. That’s how I get mine, through the CRUSH Project. It targets young gay men of color who live in the East Bay -- because there’s an increase in the rate of HIV infection for that group.