Health care providers' attitudes toward and experiences delivering oral PrEP to adolescent girls and young women in Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe

BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Oct 18;21(1):1112. doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-06978-0.


Background: In Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is recommended for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) at high risk of HIV. Health providers play a critical role in the uptake and effective use of sexual and reproductive health services; however, few published studies have explored providers' attitudes toward and experiences delivering PrEP to AGYW.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional qualitative study, interviewing 113 providers at 36 public, private, and nongovernmental health facilities in Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe that were offering PrEP during the research period or were likely to offer PrEP in the future. Data were coded in NVivo 11, and an applied thematic analysis was conducted.

Results: Most providers preferred that adolescent girls wait until age 18 to have sex but acknowledged that many girls younger than 18 could benefit from oral PrEP. Their primary concern was whether adolescent girls would be able to take PrEP daily, especially if they do not tell their parents or partners they are using it. Providers reported that it was more challenging to deliver PrEP and other HIV services to girls younger than 18. Those with experience providing PrEP pointed to stigma and lack of PrEP awareness in communities as two primary barriers to PrEP uptake and use.

Conclusions: Providers were generally accepting of oral PrEP as an HIV prevention option for AGYW; however, many had negative attitudes about adolescent girls being sexually active and concerns about whether they could take PrEP daily. Results were used to update national PrEP training materials to address negative provider attitudes about PrEP use by AGYW.

Keywords: Adolescent; Africa; Attitude; HIV; Health care providers; Women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe