Back when HIV and AIDS were first discovered in the 1980’s they were spoken of as something immensely scary. A virus with virtually no treatment, HIV was thought by many to be a death sentence once someone reached AIDS status. Decades later HIV and AIDS are treatable and can be considered chronic conditions that allow people to live full lives. PrEP and how it can assist in preventing HIV has also been fantastic. However, the fact that HIV is now easier to treat and PrEP can reduce the risk of transmission, that has resulted in the shocking paradoxical effect where more and more people take less measures to protect themselves figuring, “It’s not a big deal if I ‘catch’ HIV, right?”
When Magic Johnson went public as being HIV-positive in 1991 it was huge news. Charlie Sheen shared he was HIV-positive in 2015 and it was widely reported for about a day and then promptly forgotten. HIV seems to not be as scary anymore, and it is wonderful how something so terrible can now be treated and more easily prevented. However, it isn’t an excuse to be dangerous. Just because prosthetic-devices are more advanced that doesn’t mean your should risk getting a finger chopped-off and cut produce recklessly, or even if cars have more and more complex automated danger-detecting systems that doesn’t mean you should take your eyes off the road, hit the gas pedal, and figure everything will be fine thanks to the car theoretically knowing to stop if danger appears. These examples are a bit extreme, but get across the point: Even if HIV is more treatable why do you want to expose yourself to risk?
PrEP is wonderful but it is meant to supplement the safer-sex efforts of men and women, not replace them. Taking PrEP can greatly reduce the risk of HIV but does not eliminate it, and provides zero protection against other Sexually Transmitted Infections or pregnancy. As someone may say though, “It isn’t an issue if I get an HIV diagnosis though, right? It is treatable,” and yes, HIV is very treatable but still incurable–plus, just because Hepatitis C is now easier to actually cure that doesn’t mean you would visit a tattoo parlor that thinks sterile needles are too much of a luxury to pay for, would you? HIV is now a chronic disease that can be lived with, but acting like it is something to not even protect yourself against is a poor choice. As with preventing any STI’s the key is to practice safer-sex.
Article on Magic Johnson’s HIV Announcement:
Piece on Charlie Sheen’s HIV Disclosure:
Article about PrEp and sex: