Prevalence and Risk Factors of PrEP Use Stigma Among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Johannesburg, South Africa and Mwanza, Tanzania Participating in the EMPOWER Trial

AIDS Behav. 2022 Dec;26(12):3950-3962. doi: 10.1007/s10461-022-03721-6. Epub 2022 Jul 1.


Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in sub-Saharan Africa may benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), yet stigma may limit PrEP acceptance and continuation. We examined factors associated with PrEP use stigma among 307 participants of the EMPOWER trial (2016-2018), an unblinded randomized controlled trial among HIV-negative, AGYW, aged 16-24, in South Africa and Tanzania. The 6-item, brief-PrEP use stigma scale (B-PSS) had high internal reliability. At the end of the trial, 34.2% of study participants reported any PrEP use stigma. Three latent classes were observed, reflecting low (46.9%), medium (31.9%), and high (21.2%) reported PrEP use stigma. Disclosure of PrEP use to sexual partner and belief that PrEP prevents HIV were associated with less reported PrEP use stigma. Conversely, participants who reported fear and shame about people living with HIV were more likely to report PrEP use stigma. Our validated tool and findings will enable practitioners to identify AGYW at high risk of PrEP use stigma who may benefit from additional support.Pan African clinical trials registry PACTR202006754762723, 5 April 2020, retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW); HIV; Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); Stigma; Sub-Saharan Africa.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis*
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tanzania / epidemiology


  • Anti-HIV Agents