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Kenneth Mayer, MD: Reasons for Suboptimal PrEP Use Among At-Risk US MSM

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an essential part of the effort to end the global HIV epidemic. The preventative measure, however, is also substantially underutilized among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States.

A new study examining the reasons for this suboptimal PrEP use among MSM was presented at the Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2020).

Kenneth Mayer, MD, co‑chair and medical research director, The Fenway Institute, spoke with Contagion® about the presentation.

Contagion®: Why is PrEP underutilized by US MSM?

Mayer: It is a combination of reasons, as we found in our study. Some MSM are unaware of PrEP, others misperceive their risk, others are concerned or experience financial barriers, and others believe that the side effects outweigh the benefits.

Contagion®: What are the larger clinical takeaways of this research?

Mayer: In order to scale up PrEP for American MSM, a multi-faceted approach will be needed, which will need to include wider community education about what PrEP does and data about its safety profile, programs to address financial barriers, and programs that help MSM to accurately assess their risk for HIV.

Contagion®: Are there plans for future research on this topic?

Mayer: Yes. Studies are underway to enhance community education and awareness, and to improve PrEP adherence, once people initiate it.

The study, “Cascade to Trickle: Reasons for Suboptimal PrEP Use Among At-Risk US MSM” was virtually presented Monday, March 9, 2020, at CROI 2020.
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