Rutgers School of Public Health Dean and Director of the Center for Health, Identity Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS), Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, along with his colleagues and students, has co-authored a study examining the structural barriers, including those in the healthcare system, to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) use in young sexual minority men.
Despite increasing awareness of PrEP, its use remains low. Only 10 percent of the 1.1 million individuals in the U.S. who would benefit from the use of PrEP are on the medication. Disparities in PrEP use are present across race – African American and Hispanic sexual and gender minority men who have sex with men, who are at the highest risk for acquiring HIV, are also much less likely to be using PrEP than their white peers.
The analysis, led by Dr. Jessica Jaiswal, a post-doc at CHIBPS, is part of the ongoing program of research of the P18 Cohort Study (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) since 2009) which examines health behaviors in sexual minority men and informs the development of tailored program HIV prevention strategies at the Center.
In this particular analysis, the researchers found structural barriers to PrEP uptake include cost and discomfort in talking to providers who stigmatize same-sex behaviors. The study recommends that providers:
“A 2010 National Academies of Sciences report on LGBTQ health noted that the healthcare industry was not meeting the distinct and specific needs of the LGBTQ population,” comments Dean Halkitis. “Providers and the healthcare industry as a whole should work towards increasing awareness for LGBTQ health issues and erasing stigma felt by patients.”
These findings provide further impetus for the forthcoming Rutgers School of Public Health MPH concentration in LGBTQ Public Health — the first in the country.
“Structural Barriers to Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Use Among Young Sexual Minority Men: The P18 Cohort Study,” was recently published in Current HIV Research.