Willingness to use HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has increased among gay and bisexual men
A report released by the Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Australia shows that willingness to use HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has increased among gay and bisexual men and that over a quarter of men say they know someone who has taken PrEP. PrEP involves taking antiretroviral drugs daily to prevent HIV infection. If taken consistently, it is highly effective in preventing HIV infection among gay and bisexual men. The World Health Organization has recently changed its guidelines, recommending that all people at “substantial” risk of HIV should have access to PrEP. PrEP is only available to a limited degree in Australia (primarily through research studies or doctors writing private prescriptions), although it is being considered for licencing by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Key findings from the 2015 survey
- Very few Australian gay and bisexual men are currently taking PrEP (3%)
- Three-quarters (77%) of gay and bisexual men have heard of PrEP; over a quarter (29%) know someone who has taken PrEP
- Participants had relatively poor knowledge about where PrEP is available, who would most benefit from it and how it should be taken
- Willingness to use PrEP has increased among HIV-negative and untested men (to 32% in 2015) and concern about using it has fallen (to 41%)
- Over half of participants (55%) support gay and bisexual men using PrEP and over a third of participants (39%) were willing to have sex with someone using PrEP
These findings come from the latest round of the PrEPARE Project, conducted by the Centre for Social Research in Health. Over 1,200 gay and bisexual men took part in the 2015 survey. The survey has been conducted online every two years since 2011, assessing attitudes to biomedical HIV prevention technologies like PrEP.
Commenting on this year’s findings, Associate Professor Martin Holt, lead investigator of the PrEPARE Project, noted “Many Australian gay and bisexual men are aware of PrEP, are interested in it and support their peers using it to protect themselves from HIV. Current knowledge of PrEP is, however, relatively patchy and most men are not willing to have sex with someone who is using PrEP, which may reflect wariness about the technology while it is relatively new. We’d encourage gay and bisexual men to find out more about PrEP, including talking to their friends and partners who are using it.”
Associate Professor Martin Holt, Centre for Social Research in Health
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