This was an interesting oral abstract session regarding community knowledge and approaches to pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP was discussed in detail and covered topics like barriers to uptake of PrEP, preferences for prevention technologies, measuring adherence in PrEP users and how the health system and study designs of PrEP trials can facilitate rapid enrolment of those at high risk of HIV acquisition.
The first speaker was Adeline Bernier from France. Although PrEP is already available in Norway and France through government subsidised programmes it has not been widely taken up in the rest of Europe. She presented results from The Flash! PrEP in Europe (FPIE) online survey. This was a community-based research study aiming to assess interest in and barriers to PrEP uptake amongst respondents from 11 European countries. They found low knowledge of PrEP amongst at-risk groups, high interest in PrEP but low uptake. Most commonly cited barrier to taking PrEP was fear of side effects.
Darrell Tan presented results from an MSM survey conducted with those undergoing routine HIV testing. They asked questions regarding preferred method of PrEP delivery (oral, injectable, topical) and whether the reliability of different technologies would influence their decision on which method to use. The results were many and varied. Further analysis is required to understand what influences each individual’s preference for PrEP.
James Ayieko from Kenya presented results from the ongoing SEARCH trial, 18% of 4,064 participants took up the offer of PrEP within 30 days. Participants’ perception of own risk did not always match that from a risk score. This indicates further community-based education regarding risk is required for those considering PrEP.
Edwina Wright presented data from the Melbourne cohort of the PREPX trial. Recruitment to the PrEP trial was facilitated by a high community PrEP awareness and involvement of GPs and Pharmacists who were remunerated for their services.The high PrEP awareness in Australia contributed to the high enrolment of the ongoing PrEP study.
Rupa Patel presented data from a US study which found a good correlation between adherence measured by 3-month MPR (medication possession ratio) and 7-day self-report with TFV-DP (tenofovir diphosphate) blood levels in DBS (dried blood spot) of MSM taking daily oral PrEP. The good correlation of the 3-month MPR and 7-day self-report with biological measures of adherence in PrEP users suggests that this could be ideal for measuring adherence in the clinic setting.
Hanne Zimmermann from the Netherlands presented data from a longitudinal semi-structured interview in MSM using PrEP. This revealed that MSM switched between daily and event-driven PrEP use or even stopped PrEP based on their personal situation and risk exposure. Individuals made decisions on PrEP use based on perception of their own risk. The authors concluded that in order to successfully support future PrEP users, a tailored approach, addressing choices for PrEP regimens as a continuum of flexible and changeable choices, is essential. Appropriate education would be an essential part of this strategy.