To BB, or not to BB? That is the question

A couple of weeks after I had been taking Truvada daily, I changed my online profiles to say that I was on PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and that barebacking was an option open to discussion.

Almost immediately I started to receive messages telling me I was a disease disseminating whore.  

On Gay411, I received four PrEP/slut-shaming messages within days of updating my profile.

I always begin my responses in a measured manner, saying the fact that I was a bottom on PrEP didn’t mean they couldn’t use a condom as a top and, furthermore, that because I had to be regularly tested and return a result of HIV-negative to get and stay on PrEP, it should be reassuring to them.

But as with all things HIV/AIDS related, people’s reactions are rarely confined solely to the rational.

One man approached me on Growlr and, after exchanging several flirtatious messages, he wrote that I could keep my “filthy prep” to myself.  I sent him several links about PrEP that discussed its effectiveness, its shortcomings—it doesn’t prevent other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs)—and its potential side effects.

I also pointed out that my profile stated my latest testing date for HIV and other STIs (leaving implicit the statement that his profile didn’t).

He blocked me.

I discussed these exchanges with other gay men who cruise online and, without exception, those who have PrEP in their profiles had also been involved in similar exchanges.

Offsetting these chats have been the ones where guys were genuinely curious about PrEP and my experience with it. What is it? How do you get it? How much is it? Is it covered by insurance? We discuss it and I forward them links from community organizations with the latest information. One guy wrote me back a week later to thank me.

This post is not an argument for the position that every gay man who is HIV-negative should go on PrEP. There are medical, financial and personal concerns that may make it undesirable, even impossible, for some.

Nor am I saying that there is a one-dick fits all holes argument in favor of barebacking. Some tops really need barebacking to get excited. Some bottoms are terrified at the prospect. Everyone has the right to do what is comfortable, and sexually satisfying, for them.

The most we can ask of each other is that we be clear on what we want and when you run into someone who wants something different from you, just say, thanks, but no thanks, and move on.

For more on my experiences with PrEP, see here:



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