Study Finds Individuals Prefer PrEP Over Other HIV Prevention Methods

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Individuals taking HIV prevention prefer the PrEP oral daily dose compared to new treatment methods.

As the development of a new pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment system aids HIV prevention, researchers discovered that individuals preferred the daily oral PrEP pill compared to other methods of prevention. Researchers at the University of Connecticut conducted a study that assessed the preferences of individuals with differing socioeconomic positions and found a need to connect individuals to their desired method.

Man holding a pill used for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to p - Image credit: Mbruxelle | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: Mbruxelle | stock.adobe.com

PrEP was approved by the FDA in 2012 and was proven to be a successful form of treatment to provide major reduction in HIV transmission. The pill must be taken every day at the same time to be effective.

“The oral pill is very efficacious when people take it every day, and it really has the potential to curb HIV transmission in the country and play a key role in ending the HIV epidemic,” Pablo Kokay Valente, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of allied health sciences in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, said in a press release. “However, a lot of people who could benefit from PrEP are not accessing it.”

New delivery options were created to target individuals who do not benefit from taking the PrEP oral daily dose due to adherence or other challenges. However, the researchers were unsure whether the new delivery would provide an improved benefit and fill the gap that the daily dose does not meet.

Valente co-authored a study conducted with the Journal of the International AIDS Society that focused on individuals who would be more likely benefit from the new PrEP delivery. The individuals in the study included young men who have sex with men. Importantly, the results found that this target population preferred the daily oral PrEP.

“That was somewhat surprising because the promise of these new formulations is that they are allegedly easier to take, and many researchers and providers are excited that individuals who are in need of HIV prevention technologies would much rather take an injection every 2 months rather than a pill every day. But that’s not what our study shows,” said Valente.

The study included products such as the daily oral pill, the on-demand oral pill taken before and after sexual intercourse, and a bimonthly injection. Other incoming products were also included, such as an implant, antibodies, and a rectal douche used before sexual intercourse.

To find the preferred method, individuals were instructed to rank the different forms of PrEP according to preference. Participants ranked the forms of PrEP based on the products’ perceived efficacy and the potential side effects.

The researchers found factors that contributed to the individual preferred methods. Individuals who experienced food insecurity were less likely to prefer the on-demand pill or rectal douche, younger and uninsured individuals were less likely to prefer the injectable option or implant, and individuals with a more stable socioeconomic positions were more likely to prefer new methods.

“If new medical developments are created and we do not pay attention to addressing existing inequities, these new technologies can fuel rather than address health inequities in society,” said Valente. “Because people who will have access to them are the ones that are already connected. So instead of closing the gap, we can widen the gap.”

Reference

Study finds users prefer daily oral PrEP pill despite new options. EurekAlert!. News release. September 28, 2023. Accessed September 28, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1003064.

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