HIV prevention from a physician's perspective

20.10.2020
Dr. Caley Shukalek
Thomas Trombetta

Meet Dr. Caley Shukalek, Freddie’s Medical Director. Caley is passionate about evidence-based, patient-centred care, including telemedicine that can provide high quality care from wherever a patient may choose. With lots of expertise in PrEP as a prescriber, Caley took some time to provide a physician’s perspective on his journey and learnings.

What is some of your background with PrEP and HIV work?

I volunteered for an HIV service agency and did HIV prevention work as early as 18 years old. It is a topic I have always been passionate about and, therefore, after my residency I pursued extra training that included time spent in multiple Canadian and American cities. While still in my training, I was part of the group that drafted HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) guidelines in Alberta and am now involved in clinical work and research related to HIV and other sexually transmitted infection treatment and prevention.  

What has sparked your passion for PrEP/sexual health?

It’s kind of a stereotype - the gay doctor with interests in sexual health…Oh well ;) 

It’s hard to pinpoint one reason for why I have such a passion for HIV, PrEP and sexual health in general. I think that sex and sexual expression is such an important part of life, but like most things [that are fun], there are some risks involved. With all the other things that can go wrong with your health, sex can get overlooked and I want to make sure that it is not skipped over… and help deal with the potential consequences. In the case of PrEP, I think it is so amazing that there is something that can reduce some of the risks associated with an individual's sexual expression. 

Could you share with us some of your main learnings over the years as a prescriber and care provider?

I think I learn from my patients every day and I think that is itself the most important piece - keep an open mind and never stop learning. I am still early in my career and there is still so much left to learn, but I think the key learnings (and reminders) are always to slow down, listen more/better, and talk it through. Medicine and being a care provider is about shared experiences between patient and prescriber - you know why you’re coming to me for sexual health advice (and PrEP) and I am here to help you take control of your sexual health. 

Why did you join Freddie?

Freddie was an amazing opportunity to fill a gap in sexual health risk reduction for persons who are at risk of HIV infection. The ease of access, the convenience and confidentiality of the process, and its potential to so many people are all amazing. As an HIV and STI doctor, I know the importance of regular testing to screen for infections and the importance of having the safest sex to protect yourself and reduce infection transmission. Being on PrEP accomplishes this for so many people and Freddie can help with that. 

Any last comments?

Just that I am so glad you took the time to look at our site. Even that simple act shows you are taking control of your own health. If you have any more questions about PrEP and your own risk of HIV infection, feel free to book a virtual visit with one of us here at Freddie. We are here to assist you in making the decisions that are right for you, so you can be you. 



Written by:
Dr. Caley Shukalek

Caley is passionate about evidence-based, patient-centred care, including telemedicine that can provide high quality care from wherever a patient may choose.

He helped create Alberta's PrEP guidelines and works as a specialist in General Internal Medicine with additional training in sexual health, including HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

He holds an Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MD from the University of Calgary and an MSc from the University of Alberta.

Thomas Trombetta

Thomas is passionate about gender and sexuality liberation social movements. Before beginning his work with Freddie, Thomas studied Sociology and Global & Development Studies at the University of Alberta, after which he began working with marginalized communities. In previous roles, Thomas was involved in queer and trans health education, PrEP health promotion, community-based research, HIV education, and LGBTQ2S+ advocacy.

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