Reassessing the Importance of PrEP Use Given Reduced Sex During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives From a Sample of Young Sexual Minority Men
Bundy C, Xavier Hall CD, Foran JE, Jozsa K, Newcomb ME, Mustanski B.
Research has begun to examine sexual behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic using quantitative methods, but less is known about the context surrounding these changes using qualitative methods, including corresponding changes in risk reduction methods. This qualitative study, guided by the Integrated Behavioral Model, examines the pandemic's impact on PrEP adherence among young men who have sex with men in Chicago. PrEP-using participants from a cohort study were recruited into a 90-day diary study measuring sexual behaviors and PrEP use. Between April and September 2020, a subset of participants was recruited for qualitative interviews (n = 28) exploring prevention strategies, including the impact of the pandemic. Although most were highly adherent pre-pandemic, many took fewer pills or discontinued during the pandemic due to decreased sex. Findings suggest the importance of counseling for PrEP reinitiation as "seasons of HIV risk" increase, as well as use of telehealth as a facilitator of PrEP use throughout the pandemic.