LONDON — PrEP awareness and usage is up among gay men according to 2017 numbers just released, Reuters reports.
The current study looked at national health survey data to track changes in awareness and use of PrEP from 2014-2017 in 20 American cities.
Overall, there was “a significant increase in the percentage of gay and bisexual men at high risk for HIV who are using PrEP,” said Teresa Finlayson, lead author of the study and a researcher at the CDC in Atlanta, Reuters reports.
By 2017, the percentage of at-risk men who have sex with men who were aware of PrEP had risen from 60-90 percent. And 35 percent of these men were using PrEP by 2017, up from 6 percent in 2014, Reuters reports.
“Although PrEP use has increased, PrEP use remains too low, particularly among gay and bisexual African American and Latino men,” Finlayson told Reuters by email.
Among black men in the study, awareness of PrEP rose from 47-86 percent, while use of the pill climbed from 4-26 percent. For Hispanic or Latino men, awareness of PrEP increased from 49-87 percent, while use rose from 4-30 percent. White men fared better, with awareness of PrEP growing from 72-95 percent and use increasing from 8-42 percent.
Men who identified as straight were less aware of PrEP and less likely to use the daily pill by the end of the study than men who identified as gay or bisexual, researchers report in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
One limitation of the study is the potential that men didn’t accurately report their awareness or use of PrEP in the surveys, Reuters reports.
A potential drawback of increased PrEP use is that it might lead to a decline in condom use and a rise in other sexually transmitted infections, some previous research suggests.
One recent study compared rates of three sexually transmitted infections — syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia — before and after PrEP became a standard of care, Reuters reports.
Compared to the pre-PrEP period, syphilis infection rates rose 25 percent in the post-PrEP period and gonorrhea rates rose 26 percent. Chlamydia rates fell 12 percent, Reuters reports.