Study finds barriers to accessing HIV prevention pill

September 13, 2016
Credit: iStock

APLA Health, in partnership with the California HIV/AIDS Research Program (CHRP) of the University of California, today (Sept. 12) released a new report on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) titled "Addressing PrEP Disparities among Young Gay and Bisexual Men in California." The report includes results from a statewide survey of more than 600 young gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (YMSM) and examines current levels of PrEP awareness and use, likelihood of use, as well as barriers to PrEP access.

PrEP uses a well-established antiretroviral medication, Truvada, to block HIV infection in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP is a highly effective HIV prevention tool that could dramatically reduce new HIV infections among YMSM. The results of the study, however, indicate that less than 10 percent of YMSM in California have used PrEP and blacks and Latinos are significantly less likely to be aware of PrEP than their white counterparts. Black and Latino YMSM are among the groups at highest risk for HIV in California and across the United States.

"PrEP has the potential to help end the HIV epidemic in California and yet too few of those most at risk for HIV—especially young gay and of color—are accessing it," said Dr. George Lemp, director of CHRP. "The California HIV/AIDS Research Program is pleased to have supported this important study about PrEP uptake in California."

The report's key findings include:

  • PrEP awareness is lower among black, Latino, and younger YMSM. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of participants in the study were aware of PrEP. However, PrEP awareness was significantly lower among blacks and Latinos compared to whites. PrEP awareness was also significantly lower among the youngest men in the study, ages 18–21, in comparison to their older counterparts.
  • PrEP use is low, especially among Latino and younger YMSM. About 1 in 10 participants reported using PrEP (9.6 percent), but PrEP use was significantly lower among Latinos compared to whites. PrEP use was also significantly lower among YMSM ages 18–21 compared to the older men in the study.
  • YMSM are interested in taking PrEP. The majority (55.9 percent) of YMSM in the study said they were highly likely to use PrEP if it were available to them, and they demonstrated favorable attitudes toward PrEP.
  • YMSM don't know where or how to access PrEP. More than half of participants indicated not knowing where to go to get a PrEP prescription (59.3 percent) or how to find a doctor who could give them a PrEP prescription (56.4 percent), with blacks and Latinos being significantly more likely to indicate lack of knowledge in comparison to whites.
  • YMSM have concerns about PrEP's safety, efficacy and cost. The majority of participants said they were concerned about side effects from taking PrEP (63.4 percent) and that PrEP is only partially effective (58.4 percent). More than half (58.9 percent) of participants felt they would not be able to afford PrEP.

"These results clearly show that young gay and bisexual men are interested in taking PrEP if they know about it and can easily access it," APLA Health Chief Executive Officer Craig E. Thompson said. "But we must eliminate social and structural barriers to this highly effective HIV prevention tool. APLA Health is proud to take a leadership role in making sure that everyone who wants or needs PrEP is able to benefit from it."

The report's key recommendations include:

  1. Targeted education campaigns and strategies are needed to increase PrEP awareness and uptake, especially among black and Latino, low-income, and non-gay-identified YMSM.
  2. PrEP access points must be available throughout the state, particularly in communities of color, and provider directories should be widely publicized.
  3. PrEP navigation services tailored to the needs of YMSM of color are essential, and must include screening for and enrollment in health coverage.
  4. PrEP education must provide clear and consistent information on side effects and efficacy.
  5. California should use public funds to help pay for PrEP, including PrEP-related clinical ancillary services.

Explore further: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as safe as aspirin

More information: The report is online: … P_FullReport_WEB.pdf

The policy brief is online: … APLA_PrEP_PB_WEB.pdf

Related Stories

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as safe as aspirin

January 14, 2016
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is the first medicine that the Food and Drug Administration has approved to be shown effective to prevent infection with HIV. Nearly 50,000 new cases of HIV occur in the United States every ...

Leading sexual health specialist calls for HIV prevention PrEP to be 'available now'

May 18, 2016
Following the decision by NHS England to not make pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) available to HIV-negative persons in England at risk of acquiring HIV, Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, in ...

It's time for NHS England to 'do the right thing' and fund PrEP for HIV prevention

July 5, 2016
It is time for NHS England to "do the right thing" and fund pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, argue two senior public health doctors in The BMJ today.

HIV PrEP currently too pricey to justify use in people who inject drugs

April 25, 2016
HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has individual and population health benefits, but the intervention is currently too expensive to implement in in people who inject drugs. The findings are published in Annals of Internal ...

Daily pill prevents HIV – reaching people who could benefit from PrEP

November 25, 2015
CDC's latest Vital Signs report finds a continuing need to raise awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection – among those who are at substantial risk for HIV infection.

PrEP can reduce new HIV cases by a third among MSM over next 10 years

July 14, 2016
A daily pill to prevent HIV infection can reduce new cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) by a third in the U.S. over the next 10 years, according to a new modeling study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases ...

Recommended for you

Scientists find where HIV 'hides' to evade detection by the immune system

October 19, 2017
In a decades-long game of hide and seek, scientists from Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have confirmed for the very first time the specific immune memory T-cells where infectious HIV 'hides' in the human ...

National roll-out of PrEP HIV prevention drug would be cost-effective

October 18, 2017
Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection (equivalent to less than 5% of men who have sex with men at any point in time) in England would be cost-effective, ...

Regulatory T cells harbor HIV/SIV virus during antiviral drug treatment

October 17, 2017
Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified an additional part of the HIV reservoir, immune cells that survive and harbor the virus despite long-term treatment with antiviral drugs.

New research opens the door to 'functional cure' for HIV

October 17, 2017
In findings that open the door to a completely different approach to curing HIV infections, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time shown that a novel compound effectively ...

Researchers create molecule that could 'kick and kill' HIV

October 5, 2017
Current anti-AIDS drugs are highly effective at making HIV undetectable and allowing people with the virus to live longer, healthier lives. The treatments, a class of medications called antiretroviral therapy, also greatly ...

A sixth of new HIV patients in Europe 50 or older: study

September 27, 2017
People aged 50 and older comprise a growing percentage of HIV patients in Europe, accounting for one in six new cases in 2015, researchers said Wednesday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.