PrEP (And Sex) During COVID-19

By ena ganguly

Since the national ‘stay-at-home’ order issued, and social distancing became our ‘new normal’, many folks who were taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to prevent contracting HIV from sex stopped taking it. Their reason being was because they were not planning to have sex any time soon or not having sex with anyone other than the person they were isolating with, neither of whom live with HIV. This nationwide phenomenon has been dubbed a ‘PrEP-cation’ by folks who have been taking some ‘time off’ from their medication.

Though this change has made sense for some, for others, taking PrEP has become a part of their normal routine and not worth giving up only to incorporate it back in the future. From The Body’s article, Michael Castro, M.P.H adds “We really recommend that patients always consult with providers before going on or off any medication.” He continues, advising folks to stay at home and masturbate. Though this may work for some, others beg the question: how long can abstinence work in the long term? Some offer up possibly engaging in sex with those who are also isolating and having honest conversations about potential exposure to COVID-19 so as to understand potential risks attached to having sex. 

Even though some of us may be trying to take such precautions, it’s clear that the risks of being exposed to COVID-19 is heightened whenever we go out, order in, or abstain from washing our hands and wearing face masks and gloves. There’s really no way to know for certain if we have been exposed to the virus or not, especially when the virus incubates within the body for up to 14 days after the moment of exposure. 

For the sake of keeping a stable routine, especially when so much around us has managed to change, it feels like we should hold onto the bit of certainty we feel in our everyday lives by continuing to take PrEP. Though it may not be of much use while self-isolating, with ‘stay at home’ ordinances being lifted, like in the state of Texas, and salons, barbershops, malls and restaurants opening back up, there will most likely be an uptick in sexual activities within our communities. It may be too late to get on the ‘PrEP’-cation bandwagon. For those of us who are looking to get back on the pill or to start the pill for the first time, check out Austin’s Kind Clinic for an appointment to get on PrEP.

What are your thoughts and experiences as you navigate sex during COVID-19? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@allgoqpoc)! 

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