SEATTLE — Between 2014 and 2017, the proportion of high-risk men who have sex with men who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, for HIV prevention in the United States increased almost sixfold to 35%, and awareness of PrEP in this population rose to 90%, according to study data presented at CROI.
“Within the [men who have sex with men [MSM)] population, what we tried to do is work with the clinical guidelines for identifying the highest risk groups and use our data to match up to those guidelines,” Teresa Finlayson, PhD, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, told Infectious Disease News. “We limited our study to HIV-negative men who have one HIV-positive sex partner or two or more male sexual partners because we don’t have a measure for monogamous sex. This allows us to capture some men who may be in a monogamous relationship who should be on PrEP.”
The study analyzed data from more than 8,000 interviews in 20 U.S. cities — Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York; New Orleans; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; San Diego; San Francisco; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Seattle; and Washington.
According to the results, between 2014 — when guidelines for PrEP were instituted in the U.S. — and 2017, PrEP uptake increased from 6% to 35% among MSM at high risk for HIV, while awareness of PrEP increased from 60% to 90%.
Despite these increases, PrEP use remains too low, researchers said, especially among MSM of color. The study found that uptake was lower among African American and Latino men compared with white men: 26%, 30% and 42%, respectively. Similarly, PrEP awareness was lower among African American (86%) and Latino (87%) men compared with white men (95%).
The findings suggest that efforts to increase PrEP awareness and use among populations at risk are working, but the prevention tool remains underused, the CDC said.
“I think that infectious disease clinicians are on board with this, so, it’s the other clinicians we need to work on,” Finlayson said. “But in general, we need to be assessing this population and prescribing PrEP when necessary.”– by Caitlyn Stulpin
Finlayson T, et al. Abstract 972. Presented at: Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections; March 4-7, 2019; Seattle.
Disclosure: Finlayson reports no relevant financial disclosures.