Low perceived HIV risk is a barrier to effective pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) use among African adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). Single-item risk perception measures are stigmatizing and alienating to AGYW and may not predict PrEP use. There is a need for a tool capturing domains of perceived HIV risk and salience that align with PrEP use among AGYW. This HIV PrEP study was conducted in Kampala, Uganda. We developed and piloted the 9-item "HIV Salience and Perception" (HPS) scale (range: 9-36); higher scores indicate beliefs of higher vulnerability to HIV. We administered the scale to Ugandan AGYW participating in an ongoing cohort study at enrollment, one, three and six months. PrEP dispensing was measured quarterly and adherence was measured daily via Wisepill (high adherence: ≥80% of expected pill bottle openings). We assessed scale performance and used generalized estimating equations to determine associations between scale score and PrEP use. Among 499 AGYW, 54.1% of our sample was ≥ 20 years (range:16-25). The median HPS score was 18 (range:8-33; α = 0.77). Higher score was associated with PrEP dispensing (aRR = 1.07 per point increase; 95% CI = 1.01-1.13; p-value = 0.02) in the overall cohort and among only those ≥ 20 years (aRR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.03-1.19; p-value = 0.01). We did not observe an association between scale score and PrEP adherence. AGYW scoring higher on a novel HPS scale were more likely to initiate and obtain PrEP refills through 6 months. This scale may capture drivers of PrEP dispensing and could inform PrEP delivery and counseling for AGYW.
Keywords: Adolescent girls and young women; HIV; HIV risk perceptions; Pre-exposure prophylaxis; Salience.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.