Background: World Health Organization (WHO) reports that people who indulge in risky behaviours such as penile-anal sex, unprotected intercourse, multiple sex partners, and alcohol and illicit drugs are at risk of HIV/AIDS and classified as Key Populations (KPs). Since the introduction of PrEP and HIVST for the key population groups in Nigeria, government entities and implementing partners have used a range of channels in messaging these essential services across to the target groups-ranging from in-person, social media, television, and radio adverts. Yet, few successes have been documented, thereby necessitating the need to understand the enabling facilitators, barriers to, and communication needs of the KP groups in messaging PrEP and HIVST services in Nigeria. Communicating PrEP and HIVST services will empower the key populations to seek available HIV prevention services and help to increase access to HIV testing services in Nigeria.
Methods: This study was a mixed-method cross-sectional design; involving 1169 participants from the key populations in Nigeria. The study used a survey and qualitative exploratory methods (interviews and focus group discussion), to collect data from the participants-MSM, FSWs, and key influencers of the KP groups (health providers, peer educators, HIV program officers). In August 2020, data collection was conducted using an open data kit (ODK). Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 for descriptive statistics, while qualitative data were analyzed using deductive and thematic analysis based on the codebook.
Results: The KPs were mainly urban dwellers (77.7%), and the majority of the participants were between 18 to 28 years (89.3%). However, the MSM group was of a younger population compared to the FSWs. A majority completed secondary education (56.1% FSWs and 43.5% MSM). The MSM group showed more tendency to acquire higher education compared to the FSWs. For example, about 51.3% of the MSM group were undergraduates compared to 9.5% of the FSWs. The majority of the KPs were self-employed (56.4% FSWs and 40% MSM). Only about 51% of the KPs were aware of PrEP, with typological variations (39.9% FSWs and 62.3% MSM). MSM group in Lagos (82.5%) were more aware of PrEP services, than 53.1% and 54.5% in A/Ibom (53.1%) and C/River (54.5%). Among the enablers to acquiring PrEP information was the ability of the KPs to network within their communities and on personal relationships. Evidence shows that no single approach influenced the acquisition and use of PrEP information by KPs. Although this proportion varied across the geographic locations, only about 50% of the KPs were aware of HIVST services (40% FSWs and 60% MSM). The factors that enabled the acquisition and use of the prevention commodities were cross-cutting, including a previous or current role as a peer educator, integration of the messages, peer networking, multi-lingual and multi-channel presentation, job aids, and reminders. KPs expressed the need for information on how to take PrEP, eligibility, clarification on differences between PrEP and PEP, clarification on any side effects, for PrEP, price, efficacy, sales point, dosage, available brands. A scale-up of the research across all geopolitical zones and a survey to quantify the prevalence would help understand the dynamics and prioritization of interventions for scaling up PrEP and HIVST services in Nigeria.
Conclusions: The study documented barriers and facilitators to the uptake of PrEP and HIVST among key populations in Nigeria. It highlighted that KPs are willing to receive PrEP and HIVST messages. The policy actors should consider the preferences of the KPs and the key influencers in reducing barriers to communication and increasing the uptake of PrEP and HIVST services; ensure it reflects in a tailored communication strategy. Since multi-linguistics and multi-channels of presentation were enablers to acquiring PrEP and HIVST messages, the communications strategy for HIV prevention should incorporate these recommendations and adapt to context-specific approaches for effective messaging.
© 2021. The Author(s).