I couldn’t miss the opportunity at Canal Parade when Poz & Proud invited me onto their boat, with the theme PrEP. Being a member of the PrEP action group, I’m a vocal supporter of this new weapon against HIV. PrEP, a pill taken daily or intermittently, is almost 100% effective in preventing HIV. That was the boat for me!
And I thought I looked rather lovely prancing around in my short blue pantsuit and thigh high white patent leather boots. The atmosphere on the boat was fantastic, everyone decked out in fluorescent yellow T-shirts with huge PrEP pill signs. We felt we were doing an important job informing the public about PrEP, which remains fairly unknown in Holland and still unavailable thanks to Health Minister Schippers.
But when our boat passed the AVRO cameras, commentator Richard Groenendijk said ‘I might make some people angry but it would save us all a lot of money if people just used condoms. But maybe I’m just old fashioned, that’s possible.’
Aghhhh- I felt like bitch slapping her! That was exactly not the message we wanted to get out. But then I thought that was probably my first reaction when I heard about PrEP too. Condoms always seem the safest bet and besides they stop other STIs as well.
But the thing is, PrEP really works. And thirty years after the outbreak of AIDS we need something new in our arsenal besides condoms to prevent infection. While the HIV rates in Holland are still going up - more than 3 new cases per day are reported - in San Francisco where PrEP has been available since 2010, HIV rates are dropping by 20 to 30%. Last year was the lowest number of new infections in San Francisco since the epidemic began. Discussing PrEP is even mandatory in public school sex-education classes there.
The truth is, if enough at-risk people get on PrEP, together with condoms, regular HIV testing and treatment, it will mean the end of the AIDS epidemic.
I talk a lot about sex and HIV, it’s a part of my job running a fetish club and sauna in Amsterdam (it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it). We share the responsibility for the sexual health of our customers- it’s one of the reasons I stand behind PrEP.
Let’s break down this stupid stigma about PrEP sluts and while we’re at it, about HIV too. There is no more personal choice than the one people make about their own health. And that’s another reason I was on the PrEP boat: I take it myself.
Last updated 03/01/2017