PubMed | University of Toronto, 1 Center for Sexuality and Health Research and Policy a, 2 The Humsafar Trust and Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Type: Journal Article | Journal: AIDS patient care and STDs | Year: 2015
This qualitative study explored the acceptability of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among MSM in India, and identified facilitators and barriers to future PrEP uptake. In 2014, we conducted 10 focus groups (n=61) among a purposive sample of diverse MSM recruited through community-based organizations in Chennai and Mumbai, and 10 key informant interviews with community leaders and health care providers. Participants mean age was 26.1 years (SD 4.8); 62% completed secondary education, and 42% engaged in sex work. No focus group participants had heard of PrEP, but once explained, most reported they would likely use it. PrEP was alternately perceived as a back-up plan, a condom substitute, or a burden with concurrent condom use. Facilitators were potential for covert use, sex without condoms, and anxiety-less sex. Potential barriers emerged around stigma associated with PrEP use, fear of disclosures to ones family, wife, or male steady partner, and being labeled as HIV-positive or promiscuous by peers. Preferences emerged for intermittent rather than daily PrEP use, injectable PrEP, and free or subsidized access through community organizations or government hospitals. Key informants expressed additional concerns about risk compensation, non-adherence, and impact on ART availability for treatment. Demonstration projects are needed in India to support PrEP implementation tailored for at-risk MSM. Educational interventions for MSM should address concerns about PrEP effectiveness, side effects, and mitigate risk compensation. Community engagement may facilitate broad acceptability and challenge stigma around PrEP use. Importantly, provision of free or subsidized PrEP is necessary to making implementation feasible among low socioeconomic status MSM in India.