The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the lifetime HIV risk is one in four for Latino men who have sex with men (MSM). Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an efficacious biomedical prevention strategy to help prevent the acquisition of HIV. At present, there has been limited uptake of PrEP by Latino MSM. Unfortunately, the negative perceptions and social stigma surrounding PrEP and those who use it may deter uptake of this novel prevention strategy, particularly among high-risk Latino MSM. In this qualitative study, we explore the experiences of using PrEP among Latino MSM. Participants were recruited using gay-oriented social and sexual networking apps to complete an interviewer-administered, semi-structured qualitative interview. Thematic analysis was used to identify emerging themes relating to perceptions of PrEP users and PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy. Major themes included: feelings of protection and sexual freedom; negative and stigmatizing labels associated with PrEP use; assumptions about sexual behaviors and perceptions of sexual risk taking and irresponsibility; and attitudes related to PrEP use in relationships. A striking but not prevalent theme was the perception reported by participants that monolingual Spanish-speaking Latino MSM are skeptical about the effectiveness of PrEP. These findings suggest that efforts are needed to address the stigmatizing and negative perceptions of PrEP that persist in the gay community that may deter adoption among Latino MSM.
Keywords: Hispanic; Latino; PrEP stigma; community perceptions; men who have sex with men; pre-exposure prophylaxis.