Uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is low among women at risk for HIV acquisition. Of 468,000 women, whom the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates to be eligible for PrEP, only 10,000 unique women have begun therapy through the third quarter of 2015. These data suggest insufficient HIV prevention efforts. This study, conducted at the site of an urban academic medical center with an emergency department HIV prevalence rate of 4%, assesses the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of women toward PrEP. A self-administered survey was conducted among women at a family planning obstetrics/gynecology clinic at Temple University Hospital (Philadelphia, PA). Participants assessed their HIV acquisition risk and answered eight questions regarding knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs toward PrEP. Three hundred eighty-nine surveys met inclusion criteria. Sixty-five percent of women were black, and 73% were between 18 and 33 years of age. The median self-perceived risk score was 0 (interquartile range = 2) using a Likert scale. Thirty-three percent of women believed that PrEP could work, and 27% knew that such a regimen existed. Concerns existed toward cost (44%) and side effects (39%). Fifty-seven percent of women surveyed stated that they would take a medication to prevent HIV, and 64% felt comfortable discussing the subject with her doctor. Our data demonstrate a lack of PrEP knowledge, although willingness for uptake among women at risk for HIV acquisition, and a need for directed education and outreach.
Keywords: HIV prevention; attitudes; beliefs; knowledge; pre-exposure prophylaxis; women.