Background No data are available on the feasibility of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) delivered by trained key population (KP) community health workers. Herein we report data from the KP-led Princess PrEP program serving men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW) in Thailand.
Methods: From January 2016 to December 2017, trained MSM and TGW community health workers delivered same-day PrEP service in community health centres, allowing clients to receive one PrEP bottle to start on the day of HIV-negative testing. Visits were scheduled at Months 1 and 3, and every 3 months thereafter. Uptake, retention and adherence to PrEP services and changes in risk behaviours over time are reported.
Results: Of 1467 MSM and 230 TGW who started PrEP, 44.1% had had condomless sex in the past 3 months. At Months 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12, retention was 74.2%, 64.0%, 56.2%, 46.7% and 43.9% respectively (lower in TGW than MSM at all visits; P<0.001), with adherence to at least four PrEP pills per week self-reported by 97.4%, 96.8%, 96.5%, 97.5% and 99.5% of respondents respectively (no difference between MSM and TGW). Logistic regression analysis identified age >25 years, being MSM and having at least a Bachelors degree significantly increased retention. Condomless sex did not change over the 12-month period (from 47.2% to 45.2%; P=0.20). New syphilis was diagnosed in 4.9% and 3.0% of PrEP clients at Months 6 and 12 (cf. 7.0% at baseline; P=0.007). Among PrEP adherers and non-adherers, there were one and six HIV cases of seroconversion respectively, which resulted in corresponding HIV incidence rates (95% confidence interval) of 0.27 (0.04-1.90) and 1.36 (0.61-3.02) per 100 person-years.
Conclusion: Our KP-led PrEP program successfully delivered PrEP to MSM and TGW. Innovative retention supports are needed, especially for TGW and those who are young or with lower education levels. To scale-up and sustain KP-led PrEP programs, strong endorsement from international and national guidelines is necessary.