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‘Oh, I don’t really want to bother with that:’ gay and bisexual young men's perceptions of barriers to PrEP information and uptake

Jeremy Birnholtz, Ashley Kraus, Samantha Schnuer, Lauren Tran, Kathryn Macapagal, David A. Moskowitz

International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily oral pill for HIV prevention demonstrated to be effective for adults, was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use with young people weighing at least 35 kilograms. Given that young people aged 13-19 years account for a disproportionate share of new US HIV infections, PrEP presents an important opportunity. There has been limited effort, however, to increase PrEP awareness and uptake among young people. While prior work has identified barriers young people face in getting PrEP, effective strategies for overcoming these barriers have not yet been identified. This paper presents results from interviews with 15-19 year old gay and bisexual young men about their knowledge and perceptions of PrEP, and the barriers they perceive. Results suggest that participants were aware of PrEP but confused by the details of insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs. Participants also felt parents and providers would not be knowledgeable or supportive, and were reluctant to share their own use of PrEP on social media. Suggested next steps include online parent and provider education, systemic health care reform to streamline and simplify access to preventative care and awareness campaigns that meet youth where they are on popular platforms.

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