AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1790–1796 | Cite as

Representations of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, Informal Antiretroviral Medication Use for HIV Prevention, and Diversion on Geosocial Networking Apps among Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Mance E. ButtramEmail author
  • Steven P. Kurtz
Original Paper


The use of geosocial networking applications (e.g., Grindr) among men who have sex with men (MSM) is common. Yet scant research has examined how antiretroviral medications (ARVs)—including informal use—diversion and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are presented inside of the applications. The present study examines this phenomenon. Data are drawn from a qualitative study (N = 39) of the scope and magnitude of the informal market of ARV use for HIV prevention among MSM. Twenty-five participants reported seeing references to ARVs inside the applications. Men described geosocial networking application users’ presentations of ARVs as being related to: PrEP use among HIV-negative MSM, the sale and/or use of illicit drugs (e.g., methamphetamine), informal trade/sale for HIV-prevention, and PrEP use among HIV-positive men. Findings suggest continued desire for and acceptability of PrEP as HIV prevention tool and that geosocial networking apps are being used to facilitate the exchange and informal use of ARVs for HIV-prevention. Geosocial networking applications represent a promising and important platform to educate MSM about safe and effective use of PrEP and the risks related to diversion and informal ARV use.


Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) Geosocial networking apps Men who have sex with men (MSM) Antriretroviral medication Diversion 



This project was funded through a Nova Southeastern University President’s Faculty Research and Development Grant, Award No. 335380.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the university’s institutional review board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health DisparitiesNova Southeastern UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health DisparitiesNova Southeastern UniversityMiamiUSA

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