News (USA)

The man who contracted HIV while on PrEP speaks out

For the first time, researchers have documented a case in which an individual taking Truvada daily as a preventative measure from contracting HIV has contracted a multi-drug resistant strain of the virus.

That man — a 44-year-old gay-identifying “Joe” — had been on PrEP for two years before contracting HIV.

He spoke with POZ about his experience, including making international headlines after his diagnosis.

Below are some excerpts from that interview — head here to read the full article:

On how he reacted to taking the pill:

My body tolerated it well. And I have an app on my phone called Mind Jogger that reminds you to do things. I programmed it so that between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., it gives me 10 notifications to take my medication. My logic was that no matter what day it is or where I am, I will be awake between 11 and 1.”

On his adherence to the daily regimen:

I was on it the entire time. A lot of people disco dose [take it only during risky periods] because of the cost factor. When I took it, in Canada, Truvada was prescribed off-label as PrEP, but my work benefits covered my medication so, for me, it was not a problem. And to be honest, I don’t believe in disco dosing because I think it’s better to maintain the same level of medication in the bloodstream.”

On whether PrEP affected his condom usage:

Oh, yes, definitely. To be honest with you, I stopped using condoms after going on PrEP. I was such as big proponent of PrEP that if I was chatting with someone on a hookup site who wanted to use condoms, it was a deal-breaker for me. I was having sex to enjoy it. And if I was wearing a condom or the other person was wearing a condom, I wouldn’t enjoy it.”

How he initially learned of his diagnosis of HIV, later explained as a rare strain of the virus that is resistant to multiple drugs:

On May 4, I had the regular quarterly blood test for HIV and STIs [sexually transmitted infections] and kidney and liver function, and all that. On Friday, May 8, at 6 p.m. my doctor gives me a call at home and says, “Joe, your p24 antigen came back positive.”

I said, “OK, what does that mean?” And he goes, “You’re HIV positive.” And it was…it was a bit of a shock. I said, “That can’t be, there’s no way. Are you sure it’s not a false positive?” He said that in 90 percent of cases where the p24 antigen comes back positive, the person is HIV infected.”

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