Objective: To examine the impact of the availability of postexposure prevention (PEP) for sexual exposures to HIV on sexual risk behavior among gay men.
Methods: Two cross-sectional samples of 529 gay men in San Francisco (June 1998, January 1999) completed face-to-face street interviews assessing sexual risk behavior and whether they had heard of PEP in general as well as whether they knew that PEP was available in San Francisco. The second sample was collected after a community-wide outreach campaign had been conducted to increase people's knowledge that PEP was available in San Francisco.
Results: Of those who had heard of PEP at Time 1, 24% had recently had unprotected anal intercourse, versus 26% of those who had not heard of PEP. At Time 2, 37% of those who had heard of PEP had recently engaged in unprotected anal intercourse versus 26% of those who had not heard of PEP (chi2, 4.06; P = 0.03). At both time points, however, men who actually knew that PEP was available in San Francisco did not report more risk behavior than men who did not know PEP was available in San Francisco. In addition, only a small percentage at both time points self-reported that PEP had the effect of increasing their sexual risk behavior.
Conclusions: There is little evidence that the availability of PEP for sexual exposures may be related to increased sexual risk-taking among gay men in San Francisco. The potential impact of PEP on risk behavior must, however, still be considered as part of the larger context of HIV/AIDS treatment optimism and possibly escalating levels of risk behavior among gay men.