For Sexual Health Week 2017 we asked comunity members to share their experiences of exploring pleasureable sex and how sexual health provisions have supported them along the way. In Craig's own words, he explores how PEP has relieved him of HIV anxiety and how it awakened his knowledge of transmission and undetectability.
Craig Langton is a Sexual Health Officer at LGBT Foundation, passionate about opening up, nature and coming together.
If you find yourself in the situation where you have put yourself or others at risk, don’t worry. It happens and there are options available to take control of your health, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a four week course of HIV medication that is taken within 72 hours of a possible exposure to HIV. It’s available at A&E and any sexual health GUM clinic.
I found myself in this situation and decided within a few hours to go to the clinic and talk about my experience to seek help and advice. I felt like I was in a cloud in the waiting room, glancing around the room and catching eyes and this feeling in my stomach that took me away from myself as I knew it. It wasn’t long before I was in front of a doctor who could see my distress and who cared for me with great compassion and respect and gave me hope and put my worries to rest. They prescribed me PEP.
At first it was hard, every time I swallowed a pill it made me feel like I had done something wrong. But as the days went by, those moments made me grow and begin to understand myself and not only accept but no longer feel shame. We are all human.
PEP and PrEP aren’t drugs that encourage a riskier lifestyle - they're another resource to protect and help ourselves and others. The reality is, I was putting myself in riskier situtations long before I knew what PEP and PrEP were.
If we all talk more openly about ourselves, my health, your health, we'll be less afraid to talk to our current and future partners. Not just with sexual partners but with people who's aim to improve our health. I actually now really enjoy and get a lot out of having a full sexual health screening. The conversations and advice that you can get through opening up dramatically reduce those fears I had in the waiting room. Taking control of your health feels so good! We've got a lot to feel good about when it comes to sex, not least Undetectable = Untransmittable.
Don’t feel afraid. Talk with somebody and know that you shouldn’t feel like you don’t have access to help - It’s out there!
Between The Sheets is part of LGBT Foundation's #SexWithoutShame campaign, empowering LGBT people to talk openly about their sex lives and the experiences they've had along the way.
For more information about PEP, visit http://lgbt.foundation/PEP