I’m HIV Positive. Recently I slept with a guy who, even though I had an undetectable viral load, he wanted to be extra careful and took an anti-retroviral before and after he had sex, as well as one every day for the next week. He had gotten the medication off other guys he had slept with, and, because he asked, next time I saw him I gave him some of mine. This is called PrEP – Pre-exposure Prophylaxis. This drastically reduces the chance of someone acquiring HIV. It, unfortunately, is not something that is readily prescribed in Australia but this should change over the coming couple of years. Truvada is the drug of choice for PrEP.
It came to my attention recently that a fantastic campaign had been launched by a Sean-Franc Strang who designed a t-shirt for sale that featured an Otter holding a Truvada tablet. See this ‘#Truvotter’ shirt below!
Sean-Franc explains the idea behind the shirt:
‘Those in the PrEP community have come up with some pretty clever hashtags to keep the discussion going about the dangers of slut-shaming and how it can affect adoption of this powerful new method for HIV prevention. It all started when David Duran of the Huffington Post coined the term “Truvada Whore.” Then Michael Weinstein, from AHF called Truvada a “party drug.” It became immediately apparent that the opposition to PrEP was coming from inside our community, from those clinging to decades worth of fear, understandably derived from watching their friends and loved ones die of AIDS.
But PrEP came along. I was first introduced to PrEP from a buddy who enjoyed the same type of uninhibited sex as me. He was part of the original iPrEx study, put on by Dr. Grant at UCSF. He was one of the participants who actually received the medicine, and described it as “removing the lead weight of shame that comes 10 seconds after you cum.” He said there was a new study coming up called The Demo Project, which sought to see how Truvada could work if made accessible to people from a public health center like The San Francisco City Clinic. Could people take it every day? could they come back and pick up their pills? The key to Truvada is to take it everyday. The 99% efficacy drops significantly if you keep missing your dose. Fantastically, this conversation took place in a bathhouse in San Francisco.
But here’s where PrEP really started to work: my own self-confidence. Taking PrEP was easy, and after a few months of testing negative I stopped worrying about HIV. I also started to have sex with HIV+ people, and from my experience with The Demo Project, I learned that they are even less riskier to bareback with than those who self-identify as negative. Science! Statistics! Freedom!
UCSF was behind the iPrEx Trial, and the Demo Project. UCSF gets funding from NIH, California, grants, and other fundraising efforts. They have been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research and the work must continue. Recently, state budgets have drastically cut funding. My roommate who works for UCSF doing HIV/AIDS research in South Africa got a MASSIVE cut in his salary. I wanted to do something. Not so my roomie could make rent, but to give back to the people who gave me my first bottle of Truvada and took away my fear.
I identify as an otter. It’s way better than being called a furry chaser. Since I’m on PrEP, I started calling myself a “Truvotter.” During an email conversation with a contact with UCSF (I had my headshot used in an ad on SCRUFF directing people to their PrEP program) we started talking about what a truvotter looked like. I made the graphic and I knew it had to be a shirt. I’m giving 100% of the profits to the UCSF HIV/AIDS research program. Seemed like a fun way to get the shirt made and give back.
The shirts are $28 each, and I put them up on Teespring so anyone could get one. They’ll still be available after the countdown expires. And some of my beefy otter loving buddies requested a shirt for them, so I made an alternate “I # TRUVOTTERS” design.’
Buy the original ‘Truvotter’ shirt here, or the ‘I # Truvotters’ shirt here.