Knowledge of and willingness to take pre-exposure prophylaxis among men who have sex with men in Israel

Mor Zohar, Shilo Guy, Levy Itzchak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) has been found to reduce viral acquisition among HIV-negative MSM. This cross-sectional study was conducted before pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) licensure in Israel, and aimed to compare men who have sex with men (MSM) who had heard of PrEP with those who had not, as well as MSM willing to take PrEP with those who were hesitant or not willing to take PrEP. Methods: HIV-negative MSM responded anonymously to questionnaires in 2017 regarding their knowledge of and willingness to take PrEP, prior use of PrEP and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and their sexual behaviors. Results: Among 1705 participants, 1431 (83.9%) had heard about PrEP. They were older and more often reported being Jewish, having an academic degree, self-identifying as gay/bisexual, being tested for HIV in the last year, participating in group sex, using alcohol or drugs before or during sex, and having prior use of PrEP/PEP compared with MSM who had not heard about PrEP. A total of 760 (44.8%) participants indicated that they would consider taking PrEP, 567 (33.5%) maybe would consider taking PrEP, and 367 (21.7%) would not take PrEP. Those who were willing to take PrEP had a lower level of education, were involved in high-risk sexual behaviors, used alcohol or drugs before or during sex, and had previously used PrEP/PEP compared with participants who maybe would consider taking or would not take PrEP. When participants were asked to indicate if they were willing to take PrEP at different potential efficacies and costs, the willingness to using PrEP increased with the potential efficacy of the drug and adversely related to its cost. Conclusions: PrEP awareness was high, and 44.8% indicated willingness to take PrEP, especially those who reported high-risk sexual behaviors. This supports the current policy in Israel to allow PrEP to MSM who are at high-risk. In order to maintain a high level of PrEP-adherence, physicians should consider structural barriers, such as negative stigma of being promiscuous, lack of perceived HIV-risk, difficulties in accessing clinics or paying for PrEP, inability to follow-up or low tolerability of the medication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gay men
  • HIV
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis
  • Sexual behavior

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