Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health have published a study in The International Journal of STD and AIDS which shows that MSM (men who have sex with men) in Latin America, who are at highest risk of getting HIV – through engaging in condomless anal sex, or transactional sex – are more likely to know about, use and show interest in PrEP compare to MSM who aren’t at high risk. The study was led by Mr. Alberto Edeza, a third year doctoral student in the department of behavioral and social sciences.
The study bases its findings out of a 2012 online survey of MSM in Latin America. The survey was distributed via e-mail to people who used a sexual networking site. All in all, more than 36,000 people took the survey and analysis was limited to 22,698 participants. The survey assessed sexual behaviours, psychosocial risk factors like depression, alcohol dependence, prior sexual abuse, etc, as well as self reported PrEP use, knowledge of PrEP and interest in participating in a trial of PrEP. The study was translated into Portuguese and Spanish by native speakers who were experts in HIV prevention and minority sexual health; the survey was then translated back to English in order to verify its accuracy.
Researchers found that MSM who had engaged in transactional sex had higher odds for knowledge of PrEP, prior use of PrEP and interest in participating in a PrEP trial. Similarly, for MSM who engaged in condomless anal sex with men who were HIV negative or of unknown HIV status, they also had higher odds for all three of the aforementioned categories. The authors point out that this study was conducted in 2012 and it is likely more MSM who are at high risk know about PrEP today. The authors point out that PrEP implementation in Latin America is still quite low, and that the results of this study show that uptake would be significant from at risk populations if it was made readily available.