Well, when it came down to it...I couldn't do it. I couldn't have unprotected sex to try to conceive, without PrEP. My husband was always a bit apprehensive about it, but I insisted that I felt comfortable and confident that my risk was practically non-existent. (I still think my risk is practically non-existent, but that's different from entirely non-existent)
For those who don't know what PrEP is, it is a new HIV prevention strategy for HIV-negative individuals (like myself), who are exposed to HIV, that reduces their risk of becoming infected. It consists of taking an anti-HIV medication called Truvada, once a day before coming into purposeful or accidental contact with HIV.
We had discussed it, and made the decision to try to get pregnant without using PrEP this month. I began tracking my cycle using an ovulation monitor. Things were progressing as planned and I began daydreaming about how I'd react to a positive pregnancy test. Thinking about how I'd tell my husband, how we'd tell our family and friends, what a sweet big sister our daughter would be, etc.
But the first morning that showed an increase in hormones that trigger ovulation, I was struck with the teeniest amount of fear. Suddenly that almost non-existent risk seemed significant. And for the next two mornings, that fear grew. On the morning the monitor showed I'd be ovulating, I knew in my gut that I couldn't go through with it.
I realized I need to have the security of PrEP as a safeguard in our efforts to conceive.
For me, the smallest, teeniest and most nominal amount of risk was monumental. It felt like stepping over a crack on the sidewalk and jumping over the Grand Canyon at the same time....either way, there was no way I was going to cross over.
I started to pressure myself, knowing that I'd have to make the decision THAT day or else wait another month to try to conceive. I thought about all the data, research, studies, etc. that show low risk. In the end, I thought about the moment I'd be looking at a positive pregnancy test again...and I decided that I only want to feel joy and elation. I don't want even the smallest, teeniest amount of uncertainty because it would cloud over the moment for me. And I've fought too hard and too long to such a moment be anything but joyful elation.
This post originally appeared on Poppy's own blog on HIV Negative Spouses, a blog for HIV negative women that have HIV positive spouses and would like support around this issue, here.