Introduction: HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has emerged as a key component of contemporary HIV combination prevention strategies. To explore the local suitability of PrEP, country-specific acceptability studies are needed to inform potential PrEP implementation. In the context of Myanmar, in addition to resource constraints, HIV service access by gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender women (GMT) continues to be constrained by legislative and community stigma and marginalization. We aimed to determine PrEP acceptability among GMT in Myanmar and explore the factors associated with willingness to use PrEP.
Methods: GMT were recruited in Yangon and Mandalay through local HIV prevention outreach programmes in November and December 2014. Quantitative surveys were administered by trained peer educators and collected data on demographics, sexual risk, testing history and PrEP acceptability. A modified six-item PrEP acceptability scale classified self-reported HIV undiagnosed GMT as willing to use PrEP. Multivariable logistic regression identified factors associated with willingness to use PrEP.
Results: Among 434 HIV undiagnosed GMT, PrEP awareness was low (5%). PrEP acceptability was high, with 270 (62%) GMT classified as willing to use PrEP. GMT recruited in Mandalay (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.79; 95%CI = 1.05-3.03), who perceived themselves as likely to become HIV positive (aOR = 1.82; 95%CI = 1.10-3.02), who had more than one recent regular partner (aOR = 2.94; 95%CI = 1.41-6.14), no regular partners (aOR = 2.05; 95%CI = 1.10-3.67), more than five casual partners (aOR = 2.05; 95%CI = 1.06-3.99) or no casual partners (aOR = 2.25; 95%CI = 1.23-4.11) were more likely to be willing to use PrEP. The association between never or only occasionally using condoms with casual partners and willingness to use PrEP was marginally significant (aOR = 2.02; 95%CI = 1.00-4.10). GMT who reported concern about side effects and long-term use of PrEP were less likely (aOR = 0.35; 95%CI = 0.21-0.59) to be willing to use PrEP.
Conclusions: This is the first study to assess PrEP acceptability in Myanmar. Findings suggest PrEP is an acceptable prevention option among GMT in Myanmar, providing they are not required to pay for it. Implementation/demonstration projects are needed to explore the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of PrEP as a prevention option for GMT in Myanmar.
Keywords: Burma; MSM; PrEP; acceptability; awareness; transgender women.