How to talk to your partner about starting PrEP
By this point, you may have heard about PrEP and its history shifting implications. The highly effective drug that truly prevents HIV infection from happening in a negative person. You may be interested in taking it, or you may think it is a good fit for your life, but you have a partner that isn’t so sure. How do you bring it up to them?
Well, first, let’s talk about why you would want to take PrEP if you are in a relationship or have a partner. When most people read “partner,” we think traditionally, a monogamous long-term relationship with one person and one person only. We gotta expand our understanding of the word. A partner can be.
1. A sexual partner
a. One of many
2. A partner in an open relationship
3. A partner in a polyamorous relationship
4. A positive partner as well
a. Note: If your partner is in treatment and is undetectable, they CANNOT transmit HIV sexually to you or any other partner unless you have sex for over 400 years, then maybe (science hates a zero…)
Having a partner involves a level of trust and intimacy, and some partners may feel that this violates or indicates that you, my dear smart reader, do not have that same trust with them.
This is not the case.
Why taking PrEP is a Smart Idea
The first and foremost thing to remember is that your sexual health is YOUR responsibility and no one else’s. A lot of people out there in Societyland use their partners as a barometer of their own sexual health. Well, just because your partner comes back negative does not mean you are (for any STI)! Please, take your sexual health into your own hands.
That said, if you or your partner are having other sexual partners, ones you are deeply or surface-ly intimate with, having another layer of protection helps put your mind at ease and can protect you from the oopsies of condoms breaking or just forgetting them. Perhaps you enjoy bare sex. PrEP helps cross one more thing off the list of things to worry about after sex. PrEP’d sex is protected sex. And, I cannot stress this enough; your sexual health is YOUR responsibility (girl, duh!).
Talking to your partner about PrEP can build intimacy because you are trusting them with that information and giving them space to voice their position. Think about it; you could have just gone and got the prescription and said, “WHO CARES what you have to say, oh sexy and loving partner of mine!” But you aren’t. It shows that you value and appreciate their input and feelings.
Bringing Up the Conversation
Not every partner is going to feel okay about PrEP. They may not know what it does exactly, or they may have misconceptions about it or the side effects.
1. Come armed with knowledge
A great way to initiate the conversation is to know what you’re talking about and be able to answer some basic questions. Knowing what it is, how to get it, and how it protects you is a great start. You may even convince your partner it’s a good fit for them, too.
2. Ask questions to start a conversation
Easily, you can just start by asking questions like, “Have you heard of PrEP?” “What do you think about it?” “Would you take it?” “What do you think of me taking it?” Get their feel for it first to know where maybe some knowledge gaps are or if they really want to talk about it in the first place.
Get PrEP for FREE (or really cheap)
3. Listen to their concerns
Your partner may have some feelings about PrEP. Maybe they are supportive, or maybe they are already taking PrEP! Listen to them give voice to their concerns and validate their feelings, but back up your reasons with your own feelings and facts! Ultimately, like any decision about your own body, it is your choice, just like your partner gets to choose if they want to start or continue or stop PrEP.
4. Know your “why”
Why are you taking or wanting to take or suggesting your partner take PrEP? Why do you want to talk to them about it? Knowing your why can help strengthen the conversation and let your partner know that you are serious about PrEP, your health, and protecting yourself.
If Things Go South
Some people feel very strongly against PrEP. Maybe they think only whores who don’t wanna use condoms and are lazy take PrEP or that it is a money grab by the pharmaceutical companies or, and I have actually heard this concern, it will give you or make you more likely to get HIV. These are simply not true. If your partner’s language turns abusive or harmful, stop the conversation (if you can) and come back to it later (if and only if it is safe to do so.) No one deserves to be talked down or needs to tolerate abuse, especially about decisions concerning their body. If you need to, contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
Be prepared for the conversation. Many partners will be supportive, but some may not, or they may not understand. Knowing the facts, listening, asking questions, and being sure of your “why” solidifies and supports how you engage with the conversation. And listen, if your partner gets too outta pocket, send ‘em to me and Imma get em together. There is no reason why you should not be supported in making the best decisions for your health, whether or not they agree. It is your health! Act like it! You deserve good things like over 99% effective HIV prevention.
Live your best life.