ResearchPublications

The role of syringe exchange programs and sexual identity in awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for male persons who inject drugs
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Male persons who inject drugs (male PWID) are at heightened risk for HIV, particularly if they also have sex with men. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could aid in HIV prevention for this population, but PrEP awareness within different sexual identities among male PWID is not well-understood. We report factors associated with greater awareness among male PWID to identify efficient means of awareness dissemination.

METHODS: Data from the 2015 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) system cycle on injection drug use collected in New York City (NYC) were used. Bivariable analyses, using chi-squared statistics, were conducted to examine correlates of awareness of PrEP with socio-demographic, behavioral, and health care variables. Log-linked Poisson regression with robust standard errors was used to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios and determine differences in awareness of PrEP.

RESULTS: Among a sample of 332 male PWID (i.e., PWID who identified as male, not transgender) we find awareness of PrEP to be low (23%) among male PWID despite 68% reporting condomless vaginal/anal sex and 32% reporting injection equipment sharing in the last twelve months. Multivariable analysis found greater PrEP awareness associated with gay or bisexual identity (aPR: 2.77, 95% CI: 1.81-4.24) and having a conversation about HIV prevention at a syringe exchange program (SEP) (aPR: 2.71, 95% CI: 1.87-3.94) to be associated with increased PrEP awareness.

CONCLUSION: We found low rates of PrEP awareness among male PWID. However, our findings provide insight into information diffusion that can be utilized to increase PrEP awareness among male PWID and among all PWID. We suggest that gay and bisexual social networks and syringe exchange programs are diffusing PrEP awareness among male PWID and can be harnessed to increase PrEP awareness among male PWID.

Full citation:
Walters SM, Coston B, Neaigus A, Rivera AV, Starbuck L, Ramirez V, Reilly KH, Braunstein SL (2020).
The role of syringe exchange programs and sexual identity in awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for male persons who inject drugs
International Journal of Drug Policy, 77, 102671. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102671.