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Comment: I have cerebral palsy – the government must give me PrEP

Josh Hepple December 9, 2016

PinkNews reader Josh Hepple writes on how PreP would help him and his disability when it comes to sex.

For me, PrEP would not be so much of a lifestyle choice, but more an essential way to have safe sex.

I have severe cerebral palsy, which causes involuntary jerky movements and substantially reduces my manual dexterity.

Holding a condom packet is hard enough. If I tried to open it I would undoubtedly tear the condom and would probably end up putting it over the wrong head.

One might argue that my sexual partner could help, but is this true independence? What if my sexual partner also had cerebral palsy?

Prescribing PrEP on the NHS would make my life considerably safer and less risky. It would be incredibly empowering for me to know that I was already protected and did not need to worry about any fumbling about, trying to manage a condom with my involuntary movements.

I often have sex with men I don’t know. I have to put a huge amount of trust in them. This includes trusting them to put a condom on which leaves me in a very vulnerable situation, especially if they tried to talk me into anything unsafe.

Of course, consent is an essential part of sex, but to know that I am already protected is one less thing that I would have to worry about and I could get on with having fun.

My sex life usually involves meeting men on Grindr and therefore having excessively high reliance on complete strangers.

HIV rates in London are far higher than any other part of the UK, and while becoming positive for anyone would be challenging, cerebral palsy would only add a layer of complication that would be nothing short of disastrous.

Safe sex is vital and it’s important that I can have fun and feel safe whilst doing so. Although I have never had a bad experience to date, I am very aware that I open myself up to many vulnerabilities when I am in a locked room with a man I have only just met.

I could be physically attacked or burgled and of course PrEP would not prevent any of this. It would, however, be one less thing to worry about and could make the whole experience considerably safer.

To be in control of my own body before and during a sexual encounter is crucial and would allow me to enjoy myself that bit more.

While there is little taboo around gay sex in the UK and it is far from a crime, it is clear that a country which has the best possible health care (with as many options as possible) is the best way to prevent transmission. I very much hope the NHS allows PrEP as soon as possible.

Josh Tweets at @JoshuaHepple.

More: AIDS, Health, HIV, PrEP

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