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Ways to cope with hurtful questions about PrEP

by | Apr 15, 2021 | PrEP 101

When people hear that you’re taking PrEP, they might ask some pretty offensive and hurtful questions. They might mean well and be genuinely curious… but it gets pretty annoying pretty fast, can be embarrassing, and honestly, it just makes you feel like shit.

There’s a lot of stigma around PrEP. Like your auntie, who really knows nothing about it, except for that Truvada commercial she saw one time. Like honey, it’s not a pill for sluts and gays! Get with it!

The unfortunate truth is that hurtful questions are gonna happen. That’s on the people asking, though. What’s up to you is how you respond.

When you get hurtful questions, here are some things to keep in mind:

Who’s asking me the questions?

This can make a huge difference in how you react. Your family might just be blunt AF. We all have that one grandma who just doesn’t have a filter, right? And we know to just brush off the cringy things that they say.

If you’re close to the person who’s asking the offensive questions, you might feel comfortable letting them know that it’s hurtful. You don’t have to give a lengthy explanation, something brief such as; “it really hurts my feelings when you ask things like that” will get the job done.

People who love you don’t want to hurt you, and they oftentimes might not realize that their questions are rude. If you think ignorance might just be the case, let them know and educate them. By getting them in-the-know, this will prevent them from bugging you in the future.

Are they crossing boundaries?

Close family and friends might get a pass with intrusive questions, but what do you do about co-workers and casual acquaintances?

Let us start with: you don’t owe anyone anything. And if you don’t feel comfortable giving people personal information, then you’re not obligated to. Because frankly, it’s none of their business—and it’s okay to tell them that. You could also ask them, “How would you feel if I asked you that?” Putting things into another perspective can be really eye-opening for some people.

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Another option you have is merely saying nothing—this works especially well if it’s over text, Instagram messages, etc. Sometimes saying nothing says more than a response. It tells the person that their question is just out of bounds. Don’t be afraid to leave their rude ass on read.

It is not your responsibility to educate every clueless person about PrEP. They’ve all got Google if they really wanna know. It’s exhausting walking around explaining yourself all of the time, so save that energy for the people closest to you. But, if you do feel compelled to respond, it never kills to educate people. It’s your decision.

What was their intent?

Does the person genuinely care about you? Are they just being nosey? Or are they a potential hookup trying to get all of the information?

You’re within your rights to say, “Asking me if I take PrEP to protect myself on my nights out implies that people who take PrEP are sluts, and that offends me.”

People might not realize they’re implying you’re a whore or slut and might not mean any harm. If so, remember to be patient and explain to them that they’re being rude. Hopefully, you’ll help them understand and prevent them from asking similar questions to you or anyone else in the future. 

Sometimes though, people are just mean. Some people will use you as a punching bag because of their own emotional issues. Hear us loud and clear: you don’t need them or their drama. You deserve people around you who cherish you and want to lift you up.

Remember: hurtful questions aren’t about you. They are about people asking questions about something they don’t understand. And if they come across as insulting, it says more about them than it does about you.

Ask for help connecting to a doctor for PrEP.

Fiona Allan, University Hospitals
Call 216.286.7737
AKeem Rollins, MetroHealth
Call or Text 216.714.2223

Email AKeem at Metro for PrEP

Email Fiona at UH for PrEP