On this Pride week, I celebrate my community and would like to initiate a reflection on the perception of pre-exposure prophylaxis, also called “PrEP”.
If you have never heard of this medication in your sex education classes, it is important to know that PrEP is a preventive treatment allowing HIV-negative people to protect themselves during sexual relations. It’s about taking a pill continuously or occasionally, and it gives you a blanket of protection against HIV.
This prescription from your doctor is very often accompanied by a complete screening test (taking blood, urine, genital and also anal samples) to properly supervise the practice.
However, the problem lies around the perception of this treatment. Indeed, it is still associated with a culture of carelessness. Thus, some will say: “People who are on PrEP […] do it to have unprotected sex and that increases the number of sexually transmitted infections. »
A staggering cost
Consequently, some insurance companies have decided not to cover the cost of treatment or consider people who use PrEP as high-risk people. People on PrEP therefore generally end up with more expensive insurance coverage and the cost to obtain it is always staggering. This reasoning is, in my view, fallacious.
In addition to stigmatizing the people who use it, in this logic, we penalize in a certain way the people who protect themselves and who behave responsibly. We make the treatment very inaccessible considering its price and we deprive ourselves of the collective benefits. Indeed, some believe that they would cost taxpayers too much if the RAMQ extended its public plan and paid for PrEP.
However, we must also remember that a person infected with HIV is a person who generates enormous costs for the health care system and that this person will have to take treatments that will be at the taxpayers’ expense. So, in my eyes, acting upstream seems to save costs for everyone.
In short, deploying a rainbow flag during Pride is an important symbolic step for the LGBTQIA+ community. However, we may also be ready to take more concrete action, such as making PrEP more accessible and stopping stigmatizing its users.