Ni, Z., Altice, F., Wickersham, J., Copenhaver, M., DiDomizio, L., Nelson, L., & Shrestha, R.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, February 2021. Abstract
Background: People who use drugs (PWUD) continue to experience a disproportionate HIV burden due to drug- and sex-related risk behaviors. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective at preventing HIV infection, but very little is known about PrEP use among PWUD and their willingness to initiate PrEP.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 234 HIV-negative, opioid-dependent individuals recruited from an urban methadone clinic. Participants were assessed using an audio-computer assisted self-interview technique. Bivariate and multiple logistic regressions were used to explore independent correlates of actual PrEP use and willingness to initiate PrEP.
Results: One-fourth (25.6 %) of participants had previously used PrEP. Over two-thirds (67.1 %) of participants had previously heard of PrEP, and 65.0 % were willing to take it. In multivariable logistic regression analyses, the number of times participants engaged in HIV testing (aOR = 1.66, p < 0.01) and whether they visited a healthcare provider (aOR=20.81, p = 0.02) were associated with a higher likelihood of PrEP use, while perceived HIV risk (aOR=2.71, p < 0.01) and previous use of PrEP (aOR=3.57, p < 0.01) were significantly associated with willingness to initiate PrEP.
Conclusion: PrEP use was low among PWUD, but their willingness to initiate PrEP was moderate, which indicated a significant discrepancy between actual PrEP use and willingness to use it. Our findings highlight the importance of healthcare providers engaging opioid-dependent individuals in discussions about PrEP and the need for innovative strategies to increase their awareness of PrEP and modify their perceptions of HIV risk.