Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) don’t know how to access and afford the cost of PrEP. These findings, discussed in, “Concerns regarding PrEP Accessibility and Affordability Among YMSM in the U.S.”, were presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual conference in 2013 by Jose Bauermeister, Director of SexLab. The presentation explored the research findings from the Virtual Love Study, a web survey that captured data from young men who have sex with men about their knowledge and attitudes regarding pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Of the participants who had heard about PreP, vital information about their beliefs and knowledge about using it and their ability to access it, was captured. The study identified several impediments to YMSM’s use of PrEP. Many agreed that they would not take PrEP due to their concerns about the side effects. Even if participants knew about PrEP, many didn’t know how they would access it, even if they did want to use it. The majority of participants agreed that they wouldn’t be able to afford to take PrEP.
The results of the study elucidate significant structural factors impeding YMSM’s use of PrEP. First and foremost, the overwhelming majority did not know about PrEP. For those who did, they revealed that there were significant physical and financial barriers to their using it. These findings emphasize that in order for PrEP to be a tool for preventing HIV, that more YMSM need to be adequately informed about what it is, how it works and how they can get it. But if PrEP is to be a viable option for many YMSM, education about it its effectiveness won’t be enough. Significant cost and access issues make it so PrEP is not yet an equitable strategy for HIV prevention.
Contributing Authors: José A. Bauermeister, PhD, MPH; Emily Pingel, MPH; Steven Meanley, MPH; Laura Jadwin-Cakmak, MPH; Gary W. Harper, PhD, MPH