One-Third of Individuals Stopping PrEP Meds During Pandemic
Not engaging in risky behaviors was most often-cited reason for stopping despite guidance to continue
TUESDAY, July 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- According to the results of a survey, presented at this year's International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020: Virtual), one-third of respondents stopped using preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication during a COVID-19 shelter-in-place order (SIPO).
An online survey was conducted in partnership with Gilead Sciences HIV Medical Affairs to understand how SIPOs impacted PrEP access and use and HIV risk behaviors among 409 current PrEP users. Additionally, the American Academy of HIV Medicine assessed the provision of care among 188 PrEP providers.
The survey results indicated that more than half of the respondents had zero sexual events and zero sexual partners during the SIPO. A majority of respondents (89 percent) stated they have decreased the number of sex partners, 90 percent reported a decrease in the number of sex events, and 88 percent reduced the frequency of using apps to meet partners. One-third of respondents stopped using PrEP medication during the COVID-19 outbreak, but only 11 of the 409 respondents reported that an outside factor affected their ability to obtain PrEP (e.g., lost job/insurance, could not complete laboratory monitoring, or provider was unable to refill). The provider survey revealed that 47 percent of providers reported that some of their patients had elected to stop PrEP during the SIPO, despite 89 percent of providers not recommending that patients change their PrEP routines during the pandemic.
"Reducing the number of new HIV transmissions and ensuring access to critical HIV prevention services must remain a public health priority during this challenging time," Bruce J. Packett, executive director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, said in a statement. "My hope is that clinics and HIV prevention providers can continue to adapt to changing circumstances by offering expanded use of telehealth services and other innovative tools to help meet the evolving needs of people at risk for HIV."