Understanding, Contextualizing, and Addressing PrEP Stigma to Enhance PrEP Implementation

Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2020 Sep 23. doi: 10.1007/s11904-020-00533-y. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Purpose of review: HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a safe and effective preventive intervention that could play a central role in ending the HIV epidemic. However, low uptake in general, and among certain social groups in particular, underscores the need to identify and address barriers to PrEP use. PrEP stigma has emerged as a key factor interfering with PrEP interest, uptake, and continuation. The purpose of this article is to describe and contextualize PrEP stigma and to offer recommendations on how to address it in future PrEP implementation initiatives.

Recent findings: PrEP users are commonly stereotyped as sexually irresponsible, promiscuous, and immoral. These stereotypes and associated prejudice manifest at multiple levels and discourage PrEP interest and uptake, disrupt PrEP adherence, and motivate PrEP discontinuation. Intersecting forms of stigma may influence the nature, magnitude, and impact of PrEP stigma across social groups and otherwise hinder PrEP use. Current PrEP implementation strategies that narrowly focus on risk and target stigmatized groups with disproportionately high HIV incidence have yielded limited success and are counterproductive to the extent that they perpetuate stigma. Implementation strategies involving more inclusive messaging and further integration of PrEP within healthcare may help to reduce PrEP stigma and mitigate its impact, ultimately increasing PrEP use. PrEP stigma is a barrier to PrEP interest, uptake, and continuation that manifests at multiple levels. Understanding and addressing PrEP stigma requires consideration of its origins and intersections. Targeted, risk-focused implementation strategies perpetuate stigma and undermine use.

Keywords: Disparities; HIV; Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); Stigma.

Publication types

  • Review