"Just because you are using PrEP does not mean that you are putting it."
For thousands of people like Chris Hicks, a 35-year-old DJ from Cardiff, a drug for HIV prevention Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) has reduced fears about sex.
New studies examine whether the drug can increase "risk behavior" and infection rates for other STIs.
Chris says that, although he is not "always 100% sure", I would like to see some stigma over the drug to disappear.
"Some people will automatically assume it, because you are at PrEP, you say a lot and you are very promiscuous, when it really is not," he said.
"You just take extra precautions to protect yourself. It's just an added thing to go to the usual practices for safe sex."
PrEP is provided to the NHS in Scotland, with one study being conducted in Wales and examining the impact, including thousands of people rolled in England.
The drug is hailed as a "turning point" in the fight against HIV.
But some studies have suggested that its use may lead to more cases of other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis and gonorrhea.
A study from the University of New South Wales in Australia found that HIV-negative men who use the PPP are more likely to have unprotected sex.
Chris said they were growing up as a gay man in the 1980s, meaning that HIV is a long-lasting spectrum that left him "more cautious" in certain sexual activities.
I remember seeing it [AIDS] the publication of the tombstone that fell and how it was a terrible thing that killed many people.
He said using PrEP made him feel "more relaxed, not how to be afraid" about sex and, "like everyone else", he was not always quite safe.
"I'm in a relationship and do not use condoms, but I still take PrEP, just because we can sometimes decide that we want to open our relationship.
"We have that, as well as back, then that's our decision between me, my partner and who else we could join. That's something else we need to talk about. We always say we are in the PROP."
While no one criticized him directly, Chris saw people shouting PrEP users online and dating applications.
"It's for them not to be fully educated about it – they just make their own opinions."
Since February, 841 people have been prescribed with PrEP in Wales in July 2017 – as part of the study, Public Health Wales (PHW) is investigating whether there is evidence that PrEP increases infection rates and antimicrobial resistance to other STIs.
Dr. Giri Shankar, of PHW, said that some groups "exposed to risky behavior" may be at greater risk and the organization "closely monitors".
"At this point, we do not have conclusive data on the increase in sexually transmitted diseases in our PROP users," he said.
Projections of 841 people who took PREP, 137 had gonorrhea, 112 had chlamydia, and 25 had syphilis, although there were no indications that these numbers have increased since the study began.
Dr. Shankar said that PHW recommends that those who have unprotected sex and with multiple partners should use preventive measures and have regular projections.
What is PrEP?
- A pill taken daily, or on request before having sex, to prevent HIV infection
- If taken consistently, when the condom is not worn and someone comes in contact with HIV, it protects the cells in the body and prevents the virus from stopping it by multiplying
- A study conducted by the UK on medical research comparing the homosexuals of PREP against non-users found a 86% drop in new HIV infections among PROP users
- Many in the sex health sector say PrEP, when properly taken, is almost 100% effective
- It is intended for men who have sex with men without a condom, as well as others at high risk, including HIV-negative partners of people with HIV who are not virally suppressed
- The researchers estimate the demand for the drug and its effect on the number of new HIV infections
Ceri Dunstan, of Terence Higgins Trust, said: "There may be some reports of an increase in other STIs, but the point is that people in PrEP actually see sexual health specialists, they go to clinics for regular examinations, is not done differently.
"We have always been very clear as trusting that PROP will only prevent HIV, it does not stop anything, but at the very least it is a big step forward."
Ms. Dunstan said how the Wales study progresses, trust would like to see more demographic information collected for those who access the service, in order to "direct the messages more efficiently".
For Chris, the experience of taking PrEP is a big majority positive.
"It made me much more relaxed and less frightened to go out and have fun, because it gives you extra protection," he said.
"[But] taking it is not all-and-end-all to protect yourself, because there are other STIs out there. "