Missed Prevention Opportunities: Why Young, Black MSM with Recent HIV Diagnosis did not Access HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Services

Latesha Elopre, Corilyn Ott, Crystal Chapman Lambert, K Rivet Amico, P S Sullivan, J Marrazzo, Michael J Mugavero, Janet M Turan
AIDS and Behavior 2020 August 4
In the United States, HIV infection rate inequities persist, with new infections highest among young, Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) in the South. We conducted 23 in-depth interviews with YBMSM newly diagnosed with HIV to explore awareness of and barriers to uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Participants were recruited from two university-based HIV Clinics in Alabama and were: (1) 16-29 years of age, (2) diagnosed with HIV within the prior 365 days, (3) Black race, (4) self-identified as a cis-gender male reporting sex with men AND (5) did not report prior PrEP use. Interview guides were grounded in Anderson's Behavioral Healthcare Utilization Model (ABM), with embedded constructs from the situated Information, Motivation and Behavioral Skills theoretical framework. Coding was conducted by three independent coders using thematic analysis methods. Participants (N = 23) median age was 24, more than two-thirds reported annual incomes less than $15,000 and the majority (84%) identified as gay. Major themes that emerged as barriers to accessing PrEP included low prioritization and interests in using PrEP; low perceived HIV risk due to feelings of invincibility and trust in sex partners; lack of information about accessing PrEP; negative beliefs around PrEP; and the suggestion to change PrEP messaging from only targeting YBMSM. These findings indicate that there are important missed opportunities for HIV prevention with PrEP among YBMSM in the South. In these high-risk young men, tailored interventions are needed to better inform and frame perceptions around risk, knowledge, access and prioritization of PrEP.

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