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Attitude's Editor-in-Chief responds to 'slut-shaming' comments after PrEP story
2017-06-23
Matt Cain has issued a response to some of the negative comments he has had in the aftermath of recounting his PrEP journey. Attitude's Editor-in-Chief went on the HIV prevention drug PrEP for a three-month period and wrote about his experiences in our July issue. A condensed version of his story was also featured in The Guardian yesterday. "I knew that PrEP was a hot topic in our community," Matt says, "and at first I had mixed feelings about it myself – I could understand the arguments both for and against making it available on the NHS in the whole of the UK. I thought that going on it myself would allow me to work out how I really felt and to separate the facts from the many myths clouding the debate." While the reaction to the story was mostly positive, some of the comments on The Guardian criticised Matt and his frank account of his experiences. Matt has responded to some of these criticisms in order to clear up some misconceptions. Matt writes: "I’ve been heartened by the majority of positive responses I’ve had since publishing my account of my personal PrEP journey in the latest issue of Attitude. Reading negative comments in which I’m slut-shamed is upsetting but I’m more worried about the judgment many of them imply of promiscuous lifestyles in general. I’m not saying promiscuity is right but I don’t think we should condemn those in our community who choose to sleep with multiple partners.   "As for the question of the cost of PrEP, yes, at the moment it is very high. But it will come down significantly, once Truvada comes off patent in the EU. Regardless of this, I think if the NHS offers preventative treatment for people who smoke or over-eat then the same rule should apply across the board. As gay men we pay the same taxes as straight people, who can access services like the contraceptive pill, abortion and IVF that are relevant specifically to them. "PrEP is relevant to our community (although not every member of it) and there’s no reason it should be denied to us. Even at the currently high price, to prescribe PrEP to someone at risk of HIV is significantly lower than the cost of treating them for HIV."   "Many people have pointed out that PrEP can expose people taking it to the risk of contracting other STIs. But the truth is that these are on the rise anyway, regardless of PrEP. We need to invest more in developing new anitbiotics, which are becoming less effective not just for STIs but for other ailments like common chest or throat infections; drug companies need to be encouraged to develop new antibiotics across the board. When it comes to STIs I really don’t think it makes sense to choose not to treat a serious virus that can affect someone for life just because it doesn’t also protect them against minor infections that are much more easily treatable. "Yes, clearly using a condom and taking PrEP would constitute the safest approach to sex but we have to be honest with ourselves; many people don’t like condoms and won’t wear them, gay or straight. We can’t pretend this isn’t the case; we have to work with reality as it stands. "But what interested me most when writing my article were the psychological and emotional effects I experienced while taking PrEP. And the extreme responses to my piece from readers reacting both for and against PrEP prove to me that it’s important that we air our views and debate the role played by PrEP in our community. I’m pleased Attitude has opened up this discussion further and think we need to continue debating and discussing it. Because, like it or not, PrEP is changing our attitudes to sex, our feelings about HIV, and even our relationship with our sexuality." Read the whole story of Matt's PrEP journey in the July issue of Attitude - out now. Buy in printsubscribe or download.