HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Is Coming to Europe, but Are Gay Men Ready to Accept It? Qualitative Findings from Berlin, Germany
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In 2016, the European Medicines Agency approved the marketing of Truvada for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in European Union (EU) member states. As individual countries throughout the EU make decisions about whether to adopt PrEP and fund it via governmental insurance, it is vital to understand key populations’ knowledge of and attitudes toward PrEP. In 2015, 20 gay men completed face-to-face audio-recorded interviews, describing their knowledge of and attitudes toward PrEP (mean age 35.9; 35% HIV-positive, 65% HIV-negative). We found that in spite of PrEP not yet having been approved for marketing in Germany, all but one of the participants were aware of PrEP and knew the difference between PrEP and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP; which is approved for use in Germany). By and large, attitudes were favorable about PrEP, especially among HIV-negative participants. Next, there appeared to be an already high demand for PrEP with several participants going to great lengths to gain access to PrEP; two described intentions to obtain PEP for use as PrEP, one was obtaining PrEP via another country (where it was legal), and a fourth participant was discretely distributing PrEP out of his home. Our findings appear to validate anecdotal evidence suggesting high demand for PrEP and that some are already finding ways to obtain it without governmental approval. Our findings suggest that participants were prepared to see the rollout of PrEP in Berlin, pending its approval.
KeywordsPre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) Gay men Men who have sex with men Barebacking HIV Berlin Germany
This study was supported in part by the Tow Fellowship. A special thanks to the research participants who gave their time and shared their stories, Philip Gussmann, and the research team at the Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Research Involving Human Participants
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Consent documents were available in English and German.
This study was supported in part by the Tow Fellowship.
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