Let’s Get Ready to Celebrate! WITH PRIDE JUST AROUND THE CORNER It’s time to get PrEP and Ready!

By: Dr. Jerry P. Abraham, MD MPH, CMQ

PRIDE month is the time of year when we can take all the joy and love associated with being an LGBTQIA+ person and show it alongside people like us in the streets for all to see. However, showing up for your community means more than just going to festivals and supporting LGBTQIA+ businesses and artists. Each one of us has a responsibility to ourselves and one another to make sure we do all we can to stay healthy during this busy season. From parties, to parades, to concerts, to getting together with your found family, there are tons of ways to show your PRIDE this June. No matter what you choose, here are a few tips for staying safe:

Infections and Diseases:
Just like any event involving multiple people, it is important to take precautions to prevent common transmittable diseases such as cold, flu, and COVID-19. Even if you no longer feel comfortable wearing masks when out in public, you can still do your part through regular hand washing, using hand sanitizer, and staying home when you’re sick. The pandemic may have fallen out of the attention of the media, but it is still alive and well. If you feel common COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, or even if you feel generally unwell, it is always better to be more safe than sorry and get a COVID test. Also, a great preventative tool for both COVID-19 and flu is to make sure to stay up to date with you and your household stay up to date on your yearly vaccinations.

Sexual Health:
Beyond the usual risks associated with large crowds, there are additional cautions and considerations for MSM and individuals who intend on being sexually active during upcoming PRIDE events. Making it a priority to get tested regularly and to always be aware of your HIV status will allow you to make informed decisions about your own health and the health of your potential partners. If you would like to protect yourself before there is even any risk, medicines such as PreP will help provide a safeguard for you in case you accidentally engage in sexual activity with someone who is HIV positive. Even if you are not on PrEP and find out that you have been exposed, there are still steps you can take to keep yourself safe. DoxyPEP serves as a sort of plan B for HIV exposure that, if taken quickly, can help guard your body from infection.

Beyond HIV, there are many more sexually transmitted STIs, STDs and diseases such as Mpox that can be both tested for and treated if you believe you may have contracted them. Just like COVID-19 and flu, many of these conditions have preventative vaccines available for you as well as post-exposure medications. Even if you have not taken any precautionary actions, simple choices such as the use of condoms can play a large role in preventing the transfer of disease. PRIDE is a time to celebrate sexual freedom and liberation, but being sure to add in measures such as testing, vaccines, condoms, lube, etc. are all ways to make sure that sexual experiences are both safe and fun.

Alcohol and Drug Consumption:
PRIDE festivals and bashes are part of the heart and soul of the season. For those who plan to hit the party scene this June, it is important to remember the potential risks involved with excessive alcohol and drug use. Alcohol poisoning can show itself through dizziness, discombobulation, slow breathing and heart rate, clammy skin, and more. If you feel you may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, remember to seek help from the closest emergency personnel and drink water as much as possible. These symptoms can also be present when you have consumed a drink that has been spiked or roofied. The same stands in this scenario, drink water, find emergency professionals, and have them locate your friend group. Even if you have not drank to the point of alcohol poisoning, please remember to leave your keys at home. Setting up a designated driver or a ride plan before drinking is a certain way to avoid a potentially dire accident.

Public drug sharing and usage can be a seriously dangerous affair. Within seconds, things can turn deadly. It is not always just pills that are unsafe, even drugs that are often seen as harmless like edibles and poppers can be laced. There is no true way to know the contents of an unidentified pill. The distribution of fentanyl is sort of like blueberries in muffins, you mix it into the batter and scoop it into the tins knowing they will not all be even. There is no guarantee of where the berries will go or how many will fall into which side of the wrapper. Just because you took a piece of a pill from the same set or even from the same pill itself, that is not a guarantee that there is not a hazardous amount of fentanyl waiting in the next bite. Keeping fentanyl test strips on you and taking the time to learn the proper way to use Narcan is not only a good preventative tool, it could potentially save your or someone else’s life.

Drugs, alcohol, and sex often go hand in hand during PRIDE festivities. Things like chem sex and other sexual encounters while inebriated can often hinder judgment and make it easier to make decisions with health implications. Make sure to look out for your friends and encourage them to do the same to help prevent yourself from making impulse decisions. Additionally, using the mentioned preventative tools and medicines can help protect you if you end up getting harmed by a moment of jaded judgment.

Staying Safe:
PRIDE events, especially in Southern California, are often massive festivals that people travel from around the country to attend. Because of this, it is smart for you and your party to take precautions to protect yourself and your items. By always staying in groups, knowing your surroundings, and keeping a map of the parade/party with you at all times, you can avoid putting yourself in a situation where you are vulnerable to becoming victimized. Purchasing products that attach your phone, wallet, and keys to your clothing will ensure that you are safe from pickpockets and will not have to go hunting for them hours after they’ve been taken.

Also, PRIDE is an amazing time to celebrate our fight against opposition. However, unfortunately, that opposition still exists. The chance of attack via gun violence, angry protests, and direct confrontation from strangers is sadly still a problem. To make sure you and your loved ones are safe from harm, it is important to make an emergency exit plan and to keep a note with everyone’s numbers in each person’s pockets in case you need to borrow someone’s phones to get reconnected. By creating a meeting place for emergencies, you can ensure that everyone will know where to go no matter if they are unable to communicate while escaping and confirm that you are all safe. Apps like Life360 and FindMyPhone are also smart tools to keep on hand as an extra layer of protection and security.

General Tips:
Whether at PRIDE or any event, there are also some general tips to keeping yourself going and feeling good wherever you are this summer. Regardless of if you plan to drink or stay sober, the California heat can be brutal, and taking in as much water and electrolytes is essential to staying well and avoiding heat stroke. Similarly, wearing sunblock can help protect from the harsh effects of the heat and keep your skin safe while you take in the sunshine. Too much heat can not only affect you, but also your belongings. Make sure to be aware of any food you bring with you and how long it can be outside before it spoils and is no longer safe to eat.

PRIDE month is a vibrant and open time for people to show their support for fellow LGBTQIA+ individuals and celebrate their own journey of self discovery and truth. We have been and forever will be a strong and connected community that has fought tooth and nail for us all to have better, safer lives. These steps may seem small, but they have a large impact on preserving wellness and making sure PRIDE stays a safe place in every way for everybody. Happy PRIDE and however you participate this season, let it be authentic, confident, and memorable!


You can see Dr. Abraham and the JWCH-Wesley Street Medicine Team in Action every Sunday night at Tempo Night Club! So come out! And get all your LGBTQIA+ Health questions answered and needs met!

Dr. Jerry P. Abraham, MD MPH CMQ, is a board-certified Family & Community Medicine Physician providing care to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including gender-affirming care. As a Street Medicine Physician, Dr. Abraham cares for People Experiencing Homelessness PEH, People Living With HIV/AIDS PLWH, People Who Inject Drugs PWID, People Living with Severe Mental Illness SMI, People with Histories of Incarceration, People Who are Migrant Workers, among others at JWCH Institute – Wesley Health Centers on Skid Row and Kedren Community Health Center, an Acute Psychiatric Hospital in South LA. For more information, visit: