Personal story: Lerato
PrEP gave me extra protection
"My name is Lerato. I've worked in healthcare for five years as a certified nursing assistant. I realised I wanted to help people when I suffered a stillbirth while eight months pregnant. I took stepping stones in hopes of one day being a doctor.
Working in the health we're never allowed to know much about someone's condition. Especially their status. We have always been told to treat every patient like they have HIV. It was an eyeopener when I met a man in the winter of 2015. Jared is his name. Jared had been diagnosed with HIV in January of 2014. He was an active-duty marine who lived a normal life. He was married to someone who was unfaithful and ended up infecting him.
When I first met Jared, he was very private about his status. It wasn't until we realised we were falling in love that he shared his status with me and his story. I'm not going to lie, I cried like a baby. Not only because I had fallen in love with someone who was living the real stories you hear in the movies about HIV, but also because his story was so heart-breaking. I couldn't believe what he had gone through. It touched my heart. It never once affected the way I felt about him, but I knew that we had to be safe.
When we decided to pursue a sexual life together, I immediately spoke to my doctor. He told me about a medication called Truvada – PrEP – as a means to have a healthy and safe sex life with a positive partner. He told me to take it every day at the same time, to never miss a dose and it'll always be 99% effective. He said a condom was not necessary while taking Truvada, but he still recommended it.
There had been a few times when we didn't use condoms as extra protection, but I didn't really care.
I knew I was taking steps to protect myself and I trusted that. Unfortunately, our relationship didn't last long, but I got tested up to a year after the last time we had sex and I still get tested two times a year regardless of my long-term relationship now. I have remained HIV negative.
There's a lot of stigma about this disease and it's so heart-breaking that most people can't look past it and realize that we're all just human.
Love is love no matter what colour, shape, or status you are. I remember Jared telling me his biggest fear was not finding someone who could look past it.
He was afraid of what society would say and not being accepted. I wish every day that he found what he was looking for and that someone loves him as much as I did.
I'm so thankful that there are people out there that share their stories and have been brave enough to do so."
What we say
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of antiretroviral treatment that an HIV-negative person can take to protect themselves from HIV. Like Lerato discovered, it can provide extra peace of mind for both partners if you are in a relationship with someone living with HIV, or don't use condoms, by drastically reducing the likelihood of getting HIV. Find out more about PrEP.
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These personal stories have been submitted to us anonymously by individuals who use our site. Some of the stories have been edited for clarity purposes and names have been changed to protect identities.