Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) took to social media on Tuesday to reveal that he takes Truvada.
Truvada is a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis — or PrEP — taken to avoid contracting HIV, and is more than 99% effective at reducing transmission of the virus.
The outspoken, openly gay Sims urged others to consider PrEP as a form of prevention, writing on Facebook: “Starting this day off smart, proactive, and in control! How about you? #PrEPsavesLIVES.”
Apparently, some who initially responded to Sims’ post accused him of flaunting his sexual orientation or sexual behavior (those comments appear to have since been deleted).
In response, Sims criticized those who shame others for taking PrEP, adding that stigmatizing sexual health choices “literally kills us.”
“Think this is an invite to talk about my sex life? It’s not,” he wrote. “Think it’s an invite to shame me or anyone else? Grow up. ‘Stigma’ is the thing our enemies want us to be stunted by. It literally kills us. It’s stupid and we control our own fate. No shame in this game. Just Pride.”
Sims also responded to some people’s questions about how to get on PrEP and what steps he had to go through.
“I treat at an LGBTQ friendly health center and still had some difficulty getting in for the appointment,” he wrote. “Then, during a legislative tour of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, I asked and they set up an appointment for me the next day. After some easy bloodwork, I got the prescription a few days later!”
While some Facebook users criticized PrEP or warned that it is not 100% effective, or raised concerns about its side effects, the majority who commented on Sims’ post praised him for his openness and willingness to talk about sexual health and dispel the stigma that PrEP users can face, which is based on stereotypes that they are excessively promiscuous.
“Brian Sims, haters gonna hate. Thank you for taking this step and being so public about it,” wrote one use. “Regardless of what anyone thinks about PrEP, you are making an important point about taking control of your health and making decisions that are right for you in consultation with your physician. Bravo!”
“Safe sex is no sex, but if you have sex use latex! Neither condoms nor prep are 100%…. I think the best think you can do is take as many precautions necessary! Good on you!” wrote another.
“Thank you for being brave and open about taking charge of your sexual health and playing a part in defeating stigma — I’ve had so many men shame people on PrEP but secretly wanted to be on it,” wrote a third.