Background: In 2010, the iPrEx trial demonstrated that oral antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduced the risk of HIV acquisition among high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM). The impact of iPrEx on PrEP knowledge and actual use among at-risk MSM is unknown. Online surveys were conducted to assess PrEP awareness, interest and experience among at-risk MSM before and after iPrEx, and to determine demographic and behavioral factors associated with these measures.
Methods and findings: Cross-sectional, national, internet-based surveys were administered to U.S. based members of the most popular American MSM social networking site 2 months before (n = 398) and 1 month after (n = 4 558) publication of iPrEx results. Comparisons were made between these samples with regards to PrEP knowledge, interest, and experience. Data were collected on demographics, sexual risk, and experience with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with PrEP awareness, interest, and experience post-iPrEx. Most participants were white, educated, and indicated high-risk sexual behaviors. Awareness of PrEP was limited pre- and post-iPrEx (13% vs. 19%), whereas interest levels after being provided with a description of PrEP remained high (76% vs. 79%). PrEP use remained uncommon (0.7% vs. 0.9%). PrEP use was associated with PEP awareness (OR 7.46; CI 1.52-36.6) and PEP experience (OR 34.2; CI 13.3-88.4). PrEP interest was associated with older age (OR 1.01; CI 1.00-1.02), unprotected anal intercourse with ≥1 male partner in the prior 3 months (OR 1.40; CI 1.10-1.77), and perceiving oneself at increased risk for HIV acquisition (OR 1.20; CI 1.13-1.27).
Conclusions: Among MSM engaged in online networking, awareness of PrEP was limited 1 month after the iPrEx data were released. Utilization was low, although some MSM who reported high-risk behaviors were interested in using PrEP. Studies are needed to understand barriers to PrEP utilization by at-risk MSM.