PrEP Awareness in Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) and Transgender Women Who Sought Services from the Allegheny County Health Department HIV/STD Clinic, 2016-2017
Abstract: In 2016, the estimated total of new HIV infections was 39,782 in the United States. The majority of these cases occurred among men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2014, 74.6% of diagnosed HIV cases in Allegheny County were among MSM. 852 per 100,000 Black individuals were living with diagnosed HIV compared to 131 per 100,000 White individuals in 2014 for the county. In 2016, there were 127 new HIV cases diagnosed within the county. HIV within MSM in Allegheny County is a prominent public health issue that needs addressed. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug called Truvada to be used for HIV as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This drug is an efficacious prevention method to protect from HIV infection. Previous research shows low awareness of PrEP in all MSM communities, particularly in Black MSM. Awareness of PrEP is a first stepping stone into rolling out this new prevention measure.
This study aims to provide insight into PrEP awareness in Allegheny County, PA among MSM, transgender women, and gender non-conforming individuals who were assigned a sex of male at birth attending the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) HIV/STD clinic. PrEP awareness for this study was defined as being aware that PrEP is a drug used as a prevention method to protect from HIV infection.
In 2016 and 2017, 191 MSM in Allegheny County, PA were surveyed at the ACHD HIV/STD clinic about their PrEP awareness. 84% of this population had heard about PrEP, while 16% had not. There was found to be no association between either year the survey was taken (2016-2017), gender, sexual orientation, or perceived risk of the participants. Compared to 18-25-year-old individuals, those 55+ were significantly less likely to be aware of PrEP (aOR = 7.66; 95% CI: 1.28, 45.80). Also, compared to White/Caucasians, Mixed/Multiracial individuals were significantly less likely to be aware of PrEP (aOR = 4.63; 95% CI: 1.05, 20.41).
Findings suggest that overall this population had a high level of PrEP awareness compared to past research as 84% of the sample were aware of PrEP. Future interventions should be focused on older ages as well as Mixed/Multiracial individuals as well as other racial minorities. More research is needed as PrEP awareness is just the beginning of PrEP implementation into a community. Further research should be done to assess PrEP adherence and long-term continuation as well as barriers and facilitators of PrEP uptake and use to further assist in reduction of new HIV cases within this population.
Advisor: Dr. Mackey Friedman