Community Insights - Life on PrEP (Jeff)

Authors:

Thomas Trombetta
Jeff Chalifoux

As with different prevention methods, PrEP may be the right choice for some, and not for others, so it’s important to find what works for you! At Freddie, we’re hardcore believers in harm reduction and meeting patients where they’re at in their sexual health journey. Needless to say, we were so happy to speak with Jeff Chalifoux (he/him/they/them), Indigenous Two Spirit Social Worker, about his PrEP story.

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I am a father, which is by far the most important thing to me.  I am an Indigenous Two Spirit Social Worker and a life-long learner. Currently, I am studying towards my Masters in Clinical Social Work.”

“Having endured impacts of colonization, over 20 years struggling with mental health and heavy substance use, and over a decade of incarceration, I have been fortunate to turn things around and find a way to make my past an asset to every step I take moving forward”. 

Jeff explains, “I have discovered that my sexual identity and repression of it, was a factor to my struggles with mental health and addictions. What I do now is study, study, study, learn, learn, learn and apply, apply, apply.”

“I work for the Edmonton Men’s Health Collective as a Program Coordinator for a unique program that supports the health of queer and trans communities at the intersections of sex and substance use. It is at that intersection that people may find themselves making choices without the principles of harm reduction in mind”

“I provide counselling and one-on-one supports along with harm reduction strategies. In my work, a majority of clients want to learn ways to reduce the struggles, barriers and harms they face. Many are just learning about PrEP and accessing it and taking control of their health and making active steps to protect their overall health. 

How did you first start PrEP?

“First and foremost, I want to watch out for my health and the health of my partner(s). PrEP is a no-brainer harm reduction strategy that reduces potential health harms. I am a very sexual being and with PrEP I am able to get active in mindful and conscious ways that lower any stress around contracting HIV."

“I accessed PrEP after hearing about it at our local gay bar, Evolution Wonderlounge, when PrEP Alberta was launched. From there I contacted the resources available through the website and connected with a gay doctor who helped my become better equipped to watch out for my sexual, and overall, health.”

After starting PrEP, Jeff says “I noticed that I engage in more conversations around sexual health with my partner(s). It has become a standard part of conversations in hookups and in general, around safety and preferences around sex. “

Tell us a bit about your experience with Freddie so far!

With the goal of addressing barriers towards PrEP access, Freddie provides affirming and competent care through virtual consultations, easing the pains of accessing PrEP. Jeff says: 

“Freddie has been a breeze compared to when I first got on PrEP. And getting it brought right to my door was so helpful. Before Freddie, the pharmacist I used to access was clueless about PrEP and constantly there were issues with them, with billing, with access and even with them understanding what it was. I had to explain to them on numerous occasions what [PrEP] was.”

If you or somebody you know could benefit from Freddie, feel free to tell them about us! We echo Jeff’s words: “Your health is just that….YOURS!!! Do what you can to stay healthy.” If we can help you with that, feel free to email support@gofreddie.com

Where to connect with Jeff

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jeff-chalifoux-a8077b49

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