Interviews with participants in the US sites of the iPrEx study of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) show that participants who took it mainly used it as an additional source of reassurance rather than to replace whatever risk management strategy they were currently using to avoid HIV infection.
There were participants who used it as their sole defence against HIV infection, but these tended to be the minority of participants who had never used condoms before they joined iPrEx. There was no evidence that participants were substituting PrEP for condoms en masse.
The iPrEx researchers conducted 60 in-depth interviews with study participants in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Their mean age was 36; 51% were of white ethnicity, 43% African-American and 6% other.
Condom use in the interviewees before they joined the study “ranged from routine to never”, researcher Kimberley Koester told the conference.
Once on PrEP, the participants did not report significant changes in other risk management behaviours – except for younger participants, who actually increased their use of condoms. In most cases it did not lead to increased condomless sex: but it did lead to decreased stress, fear and guilt.
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