More than 1,500 gay and bisexual Australian men were surveyed recently about what they thought of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as an HIV prevention strategy.
Most were HIV negative (72%) or untested (20%) and a majority said they were interested in PrEP, with nearly eight out of ten saying they would be willing to take it to prevent getting HIV.
Nearly half said they would take PrEP even if it wasn’t 100% effective and half said they were prepared to pay for it.
"However, there was some cautiousness," says Martin Holt from the National Centre in HIV Social Research, "which is understandable given that it is still in development."
Only a quarter thought that PrEP would be effective in preventing HIV; over half were worried about taking PrEP on an ongoing basis; and two-thirds were concerned about potential side-effects.
Meanwhile, in the UK 1,259 gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) responded to a snapshot survey, published by Sigma Research in November 2011.
While few were currently aware of PrEP, most who were introduced to the idea support it being made available. Half would consider taking it themselves, but most would prefer to take it on a daily basis, rather than before and after each time they have sex.
Men who had casual partners were slightly more likely to consider its use.
Interestingly, men who had a regular sexual partner who was HIV positive were no more likely to consider PrEP than others.
PrEP involves HIV-negative people taking antiretroviral drugs in order to reduce their risk of infection. Results of the iPrEX study into the safety and effectiveness of PrEP in gay and other men who have sex with men showed that, overall, it reduced infections by 43%.
Much higher levels of efficacy, however, were seen in men who took the pill every day.