'Slut-Shaming' Of People Using PrEP Needs To End

A recent report by the Gay Men's Health Project found that many surveyed who used PrEP were subject to shaming by other gay men.

Close up of PrEP pills people have been subject to shaming for using

FS Magazine have released findings of a survey undertaken by almost 800 gay and bisexual men in the UK concerning attitudes to PrEP. They revealed a large percentage of PrEP users had been subject to shaming for their usage of the HIV prevention drug.

39% said they were currently taking PrEP while 49% are on trial. 30% of non PrEP users responded they could not gain access to a trial, a worrying 31% could not afford it and all agreed it should be free on the NHS.

43% of those surveyed said they had been called a “slut” for their usage of PrEP, which is not only disappointing but potentially very dangerous. 48% also reported comments such as “just use condoms”. For a community who know only too well the trauma and horrific impact HIV and AIDS has had on its members, it’s deeply depressing people looking to protect themselves and others have been subject to what amounts to ‘slut-shaming’. Another finding was that 27% have also been told “PrEP is expensive and shouldn’t be given to gay men on the NHS.”

Ian Howley of Health Equality and Rights Organisation (HERO), stated: “We really need to stop slut shaming each other. Calling each other lazy, irresponsible or promiscuous does nothing to stop the spread of HIV. It only takes one sexual encounter for HIV and STIs to be passed on.”

Hugh Lane

He continued: “One of the most common responses we hear at HERO is that gay and bisexual men on PrEP are not being responsible. Those who are on PrEP are being responsible. They are stopping the spread of HIV within the gay and bisexual communities. We should be applauding them, not shaming them.

“There’s a stigma associated with PrEP that we don’t see with any other medication, most likely because it’s linked to sex and lots of gay men still have hang-ups and shame associated with the type of sex that are having.”

If you are affected by this issue and for more information on PrEP, check out ACT UP Dublin’s website.

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