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PrEP awareness and barriers in adolescents assigned male at birth who have sex with males

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In May 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration approved daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for adolescents under age 18. Although this is an important step toward HIV prevention for adolescents assigned male at birth who have sex with males (AMSM), limited research exists to gauge their awareness of PrEP as a prevention option. Additionally, the attitudes and perceived barriers regarding PrEP among this population have not been well studied. We conducted an online survey from February to April 2018, in which 219 AMSM age 15–17 read a description of PrEP, and then answered questions about PrEP awareness, perceived barriers, and demographic and behavioral correlates. A slight majority (54.8%) had heard of PrEP before, and 56.1% did not know how they would access PrEP. Of those who had heard of PrEP, 2.5% had ever used it. Most had first learned about PrEP online, through media, or geosocial networking (GSN) applications to meet male partners. Those who had heard of PrEP were more likely to be older, to have used GSN applications, and to have greater HIV knowledge. Not knowing how to access PrEP was predicted by having had more partners, lower HIV knowledge, and never having talked to a provider about PrEP. Believing that one could not afford PrEP was predicted by greater perceived risk of HIV. Findings suggest moderate awareness of PrEP among AMSM, that youth at greater risk of HIV may perceive greater barriers, and that online spaces can play a significant role in increasing PrEP knowledge and reducing implementation barriers.

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  • 03/06/2019
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