Monday, November 7, 2011

Most UK Gay Men accept PrEP!

via aidsmap, by Roger Pebody

While few gay men in England are currently aware of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), most men who are introduced to the idea support PrEP being made available.

Half would consider taking it themselves, but most would prefer to take it on a daily basis, rather than before and after each time they have sex. These findings come from a snapshot survey of gay men in England, published by Sigma Research this week.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves HIV-negative people taking anti-HIV drugs in order to reduce their risk of infection. Results of the iPrEX study into the safety and effectiveness of PrEP in gay and other men who have sex with men showed that, overall, it reduced infections by 43%. Much higher levels of efficacy were seen in men with good adherence to PrEP.

Recent studies with American gay men have shown that while only a minority of men is aware of PrEP, a majority would consider using it.

Most men say PrEP would not affect their own use of condoms, particularly if it is only partially effective.

To investigate the views of gay men in England, researchers put a series of questions to members of the Sigma Panel in June 2011.

The panel is made up of approximately 1500 gay men, bisexual men and other men that have sex with men (MSM) who respond to monthly cross-sectional online surveys about HIV and sexual health.

The surveys have a short turnaround for analysis and reporting to health workers.

Only men who do not have diagnosed HIV were asked about PrEP; 1259 responded.

Prior awareness of PrEP was low. Only 17% of respondents said that they had already heard of the idea of taking a pill before sex in order to prevent HIV infection.

Having informed respondents about what PrEP is and how it might be prescribed, the researchers asked whether men would consider using PrEP, should they be offered it at a sexual health clinic.

Just over half (52%) said they would consider it, while 30% weren’t sure and 17% wouldn’t consider taking PrEP.

There were no differences in the proportion who would consider its use by age, education or sexual identity. Men who had casual partners were slightly more likely to consider its use.

Men who had a regular sexual partner who was HIV-positive were no more likely to consider PrEP than others.

Men who would consider using PrEP were asked why. Generally they wished to avoid HIV infection and believed that PrEP could help reduce this risk.

Many of these men saw PrEP as providing “additional protection”; this could help bring peace of mind.

Some men who use condoms all the time expressed an interest in taking PrEP.

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