Background: HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a new prevention intervention directed at sero-negatives who are at high risk for acquiring HIV disease.
Objectives: To determine knowledge, attitudes and belief about HIV PrEP among STD clinic attendees in Columbia, South Carolina.
Methods: A voluntary, self-administered survey was offered to consecutive STD clinic attendees who presented for evaluation. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was employed to obtain adjusted ratios and 95% CI.
Results: A total of 350 HIV-negative STD clinic attendees completed the survey. There were 190 (54.4%) males, 315 (90%) African American, 193 (55%) had previous visits, 329 (94%) reported having vaginal sex and (186) 53% had an STD in the past. Only 28 (8%) had heard of PrEP. Participants believing they were at high/medium risk of getting HIV were more likely than those who believed they had no/low risk to agree with the statement, “If pills to prevent HIV-infection were presently available, I would be willing to take them for a lifetime” (aOR 2.0; 95% CI 1.07 – 4.0). Males were more likely than females to agree with the statement, “If I had to, it would be very difficult for me (or my partner) to both use condoms and take daily pills to prevent HIV-infection” (aOR 2.6; 95% CI 1.58 – 4.25). Individuals who did not know their partners’ status were more likely than those who knew their partners status to agree with the statement, “I would be someone who needs to take PrEP” (aOR 1.68; 95% CI 1.06 – 2.66).
Conclusions: Successful implementation of PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy will require understanding of the attitudes and beliefs held by those at high risk for infection.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: Considerable amount of effort and funding will be needed for education about the benefits of PrEP in populations who traditionally do not perceive themselves at risk.