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31 Days of PrEP

Myth or Truth: Do Only the Promiscuous Use PrEP?

Myth or Truth: Do Only the Promiscuous Use PrEP?


Today we look at the idea that PrEP is a marker of promiscuity.

Editor's Note: There are, unfortunately, many myths going around about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP -- the use of an antiretroviral drug by HIV-negative people to prevent them from being infected with HIV during sex. This month we'll look at one myth per day and offer evidence why it's not true.

Myth: Only promiscuous people use PrEP.

Truth: One of the oddest aspects of the PrEP debate is the slut-shaming and pearl-clutching about how it will make gay and bisexual men more promiscuous, or that using PrEP will increase risky behavior. We've seen this before in debates over giving the human papillomanvirus vaccine to teenagers and birth control to women. There has been no documented increase in risky behavior because of using PrEP. The shame surrounding PrEP use actually appears to be keeping people from taking it, for fear of being seen as promiscuous. "I think [PrEP] is also a part of our sexual rights," says Charles Stephens, director of Atlanta-based activist group Counter Narrative. "As black gay men we absolutely have a right to pleasure, we have a right to health; we have a right to every tool that's available to protect ourselves. There are arguments that suggest by having access to PrEP it will increase condomless sex and it will make people less afraid of HIV. I believe those arguments are rooted in a very moralistic and judgmental lens around sexuality,"

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Katie Peoples