Outreach for PrEP Counseling Shows Ability to Reach Underserved Communities

In Brazil, a concerted effort of recruiting adolescents was made to go out and talk with them about PrEP.

“Meet them where they are,” is one of the common refrains to addressing social inequities when it comes to patient care and trying to take care of underserved communities. Certainly in HIV prevention care, this is something that has been witnessed by clinicians when it comes to PrEP therapy.

PrEP has been underutilized here in the United States, and there are groups of people who might not be seen by health care providers who could benefit from PrEP. For example, young, healthy people who are sexually active might not be under the care of a provider.

In Brazil, HIV incidence has been increasing in its younger population including groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW). According to PrEPWatch, between 42,000-44,000 people are estimated to be taking PrEP in that country.

Just like Americans, Brazilians could benefit with greater outreach and education to underserved populations.

Brazilian Investigators from a few universities performed a demonstration study that offered HIV combination prevention, including oral daily PrEP in 3 major cities (Salvador, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte).

Within the study, they wanted to see how their recruitment strategies were received amongst the adolescents. Peer educators recruited participants from MSM and TGW groups at a variety of venues including schools, online platforms and apps, direct referrals from health services, and referrals from friends and partners.

They conducted interviews asking their views on the ways educators engaged the participants. “Recruitment strategies implemented by PrEP1519 were perceived as friendly and informative, thus increasing adolescents' awareness of and interest on HIV prevention methods,” the investigators wrote.

The counseling they received on PrEP was beneficial and proved to be non-judgemental said the participants.

The investigators stressed the importance of understanding the individual cohorts’ needs and the nuances in recruiting them for PrEP education. “Studies including MSM and TGW need to consider the sociocultural contexts of these two groups since different recruitment strategies may work better to each of them,” investigators concluded.

The findings were presented at the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science.