Introducing PrEP Conversations, Our PrEP Education Video Series

  • Participants in Harlem United's PrEP video series

By now, you may have heard about PrEP. It’s a daily pill that can help you stay HIV-negative. But what is it really like to take PrEP? Is it easy to get? What does it do to your body? And what about all those stereotypes about the “type” of person who takes PrEP?

Our new video series, PrEP Conversations, is here to answer those questions.

In this series, we talked with real PrEP users and advocates about their PrEP stories. We asked them to share their personal experiences with PrEP, from the side effects they experienced to what they worried about when they started taking it.

Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS is still highly stigmatized, and so are safer sex tools like PrEP. We talked to PrEP users and advocates about that, too.

“I didn’t want to be a ‘bad gay,’” says one person about deciding to take the medication. “It doesn’t mean you’re being promiscuous; it means you’re being smart and protecting yourself,” says another.

Nearly 80,000 people in the United States are taking PrEP. That’s a big number, but it’s a far cry from 1.2 million, the number of Americans the CDC says are good candidates for the medication. The truth is that taking PrEP is a way to take control of your health and have safer sex, just like using condoms, PEP, or even birth control.

The PrEP Conversations videos are the newest component of our award-winning PrEP awareness campaign, Swallow This. Originally launched in 2015 and renewed for a second year in 2016, the Swallow This campaign has reached millions of people in New York City with cheeky ads and resources about PrEP awareness.

In addition, we chose to launch PrEP Conversations today as part of our recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Black gay and bisexual men are more impacted by HIV/AIDS than any other population; in some U.S. cities, an estimated 1 in 2 Black gay and bi men are HIV-positive. However, African Americans make up only 10% of PrEP users.

That’s why these conversations — and our work — are so important. We cannot aspire to end the AIDS epidemic without recognizing and tackling the health disparities faced by communities of color, particularly when it comes to HIV/AIDS and PrEP access. Part of that effort means dismantling the stigma and fear around HIV/AIDS and recognizing PrEP for what it is: a choice you make to stay safe.

By talking to real PrEP users about their experiences, we hope to continue the dialogue around this life-changing medication. PrEP should be accessible to anyone who feels they need it — free of stigma, shame, or fear.

You can view all of our PrEP Conversation videos and learn more about our Swallow This campaign at harlemunited.org/prep.