In 1999, when Poppy Hillsborough walked into work in her newly adopted home of San Francisco, she wasn’t expecting to fall in love. But then Ted Morgan, a tall, lanky Californian with sandy-blond hair and pink cheeks, held the door open for her.
“He held out his hand to shake hands and said, ‘Hi, welcome. I’m Ted,’” Hillsborough said. “I was looking into his amazing blue eyes and I remember thinking, ‘This is the guy.’ I just knew it from the moment I met him.”
It was an unwelcome realization. It was her second day in San Francisco. She was still getting her bearings, she worked with the guy, and she was already in a relationship.
The fact that Ted was HIV-positive didn’t come into play until the two started dating a year and a half later. But even that didn’t deter the dreams of pink-cheeked babies that had begun drifting through Hillsborough’s head. As a child in a Chicago suburb, she had turned spoons and forks into babies, tucking them in to the cutlery drawer with a prayer that they sleep soundly. She had always wanted to be a mother.
If she dated Morgan, she wasn’t sure how that would happen. At the time, neither did science. Back then, condoms were the best and only option for HIV prevention between those with the virus and those without (called HIV mixed-status couples). So natural conception was out, without the aid of invasive and expensive procedures. Over the next 13 years, all that would change. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Truvada for HIV prevention, an approach called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. Nearly half of PrEP users (48 percent) in the first few years of approval have been women. Poppy is one of them.