New Study Shows Youths’ Interest in Using PrEP
If you have been exploring our site, you might have read about Truvada, a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug that can reduce an individual’s risk of acquiring HIV. We’ve also written about the importance of reducing your risk even when using PrEP medications.
In this blog, we will review the research findings of a recently published article using data from one of our projects, Crew 450. It is a study for young men who have sex with men (YMSM) between the ages of 16 and 20. Crew 450 collects data on many behaviors, but we will focus on questions about youths’ interest in PrEP.
In the questions asked to participants about interest in PrEP, there were three potential responses for each item (see the chart below). Our analyses combined the individual responses and calculated an average score. We also asked additional questions about the likelihood of using PrEP in specific situations.
What did we find?
- On average, the participants in our study rated themselves to be “somewhat likely” to use PrEP. Use the chart above to help explain the score. On one end, youth would not be likely to use PrEP, and on the other end, youth would be very likely to use PrEP.
- The young men indicated an increased willingness to use condoms even when using PrEP.
- The young men who reported more unprotected anal sex were less likely to be interested in PrEP.
What does it all mean?
While young men who have sex with men in our study reported being somewhat likely to use PrEP, they were also concerned about protecting themselves by also using condoms. However, not all young men were interested in using PrEP: those who reported higher rates of unprotected anal sex were less interested in using PrEP. This finding is alarming because young people with higher rates of unsafe sex are at greater risk of HIV infection and might benefit the most from PrEP. A potential reason for not showing interest in PrEP could be that they have just never heard of it. More research is needed to understand this better.
PrEP is not a replacement for condoms or other safe sex measures, but may be another tool to use in keeping yourself, and your partners, safe. Keep in mind that there are barriers to accessing this drug, including the cost, which can be as high as $1,200 a month!
For more information about PrEP, visit the CDC website.
Mustanski, B., Johnson, A.K., Garofalo, R., Ryan,D., Birkett, M. (2012). Perceived Likelihood of Using HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Medications Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men. AIDS and Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10461-012-0359-y