PrEP is Personal

Matthew Lowther works for Howard Brown Health as the PrEP Coordinator where he provides PrEP navigation support for patients engaging in PrEP care. He has been working in the HIV/STI field for 7 years with experience in community-based LGBTQ health research, health education, and program development. He has a Masters of Public Health and a Masters of Social Work from University of Michigan. Outside work, he enjoys playing music, going to shows, cooking and baking, and hanging out with his cats.

“My journey to HIV prevention work was personal. Many people who have been close to me were HIV positive, including friends, partners, and family. With my father, I witnessed at an early age what it means to struggle and to thrive while living with HIV. I began volunteering with a gay men’s community group that was associated with the same HIV organization where my father accessed support services. As I began to learn more about HIV, it sparked a passion in me to share this knowledge with the community. I did this as a health educator, researcher, and now as a PrEP coordinator. I love to empower people to make informed decisions about their sexual health in a way that is person-centered and judgment free.

PrEP has been a way for me to enjoy sex without the fear of HIV. Using condoms was not pleasurable for me, but I wanted to stay HIV negative. My experience taking PrEP was freeing and put my anxieties to rest. It also meant that I was no longer worrying about someone else’s HIV status and whether they were going to infect me. I knew that I was doing something to take responsibility for my own health and well-being.

I personally continue to work in HIV prevention with PrEP because I see the structural inequities that make communities vulnerable to HIV. I want to empower folks to address these barriers to show that PrEP is possible for everyone, regardless of your situation. No one should have to become HIV positive to get the support that they need.

What I have experienced in this work is that PrEP is important for challenging HIV stigma. It bridges the gap between living with HIV and living without HIV. Taking medication to prevent HIV puts everyone on the same level: regardless of status, everyone wants to to stay healthy. It is also a highly effective method in preventing HIV infection, where infection is highly unlikely when it is taken as prescribed, similar to being on a medication regimen, positive, and undetectable.

As Howard Brown Health’s PrEP Coordinator, I provide PrEP navigation services to guide individuals through their PrEP journey. I want to ensure that folks are supported in getting started and staying on PrEP-for as long as they wish. This work will ultimately help PrEP users educate themselves and their communities that PrEP is attainable, safe, and works to prevent HIV.”

For additional information about PrEP or to make an appointment, call 773.388.8885. You can also send an e-mail to prep@howardbrown.org for more information.