Becoming adherent to a preventive treatment for HIV: a qualitative approach

Psychol Health Med. 2020 Mar;25(3):270-281. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2019.1640886. Epub 2019 Jul 11.


The clinical trial ANRS-IPERGAY investigated the efficacy of sexual activity-based (i.e. on demand) HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Using a qualitative method, we analysed the role of adherence as one of the main elements for PrEP effectiveness and its associated determinants. Data were collected in various French ANRS-IPERGAY sites during the double-blind (2012-2014) and open-label study (2015-2016) phases, through two individual interviews per participant, collective interviews and focus groups. A total of 83 participants participated in the present study. Our analysis included 32 individual interviews (with 16 participants), 13 collective interviews (n = 45) and 8 focus groups (n = 33). We investigated adherence to on-demand pill-intake schedule, focusing especially on PrEP integration into daily life. PrEP intake was regulated through coping strategies to simplify implementation and avoid stigmatizing reactions. We considered self-care and pharmaceuticalization of prevention as specific features of sexual activity-based PrEP. As PrEP is a prophylaxis for seronegative people, it is contributing to the emergence of a new identity in the HIV field. Health-care professionals should take into account the practical implementation of PrEP schedules into daily life, assist PrEP users in personal management of pill intake and, more generally, improve adherence to the prophylaxis.

Keywords: HIV; PrEP intake; adherence; coping strategies; prevention; qualitative methods; stigmatization.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis*
  • Qualitative Research


  • Anti-HIV Agents