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More Education Needed to Improve Use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis by Young People

Adolescent and Transition Medicine | Top Scientific Achievement
2023 Research Discoveries

Sexual partners of young people living with HIV are at high risk of HIV infection themselves. Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can help reduce their risk of acquiring the virus that leads to AIDS by up to 99%. But not everyone in this population is taking PrEP.

A study led by first author Corinne Lehmann, MD, MEd, and senior author Tanya Kowalczyk Mullins, MD, MS, explored the attitudes of young people living with HIV toward discussing PrEP with their sexual partners in hopes the information could inform future interventions.

Lehmann and Mullins interviewed 25 people between the ages of 15 to 24 years who are living with HIV. Participants answered questions about their knowledge of PrEP, their sexual behaviors, their attitudes toward discussing PrEP with partners, and any barriers they face to having a conversation about PrEP with future partners.

The most identified barriers included participants feeling uncomfortable with disclosing their HIV status to sexual partners or potential partners, having concerns over their partners’ reactions, as well as the partners themselves not being open to discussing HIV or PrEP. Participants reported that having more knowledge about PrEP themselves would be helpful in discussing the medicine with partners.

The researchers determined that clinicians could increase the use of PrEP by providing more education around the medicine and giving young people at risk of HIV infection more opportunities to meet with clinicians to discuss whether it’s right for them.

“There are barriers young people living with HIV face to discussing PrEP with their sexual partners,” Mullins says. “But providing them with more education about PrEP can help.”

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Publication Information
Original title: Attitudes Toward and Experiences With Discussing Pre-exposure Prophylaxis With Sexual Partners Among US Adolescents and Young Adults Living With HIV
Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health
Publish date: June 15, 2023
Read the study

Research By

Tanya Kowalczyk Mullins, MD, MS
Tanya Kowalczyk Mullins, MD, MS
Director of Research, Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine
Corinne Lehmann, MD, MEd
Corinne Lehmann, MD, MEd
Director, Family Care Center for HIV Infection