HealthDay News — According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, many men who have sex with men (MSM) are not aware of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication that can be used to protect them from contracting HIV.

Researchers studied 2014 data from 401 HIV-negative MSM in Baltimore. Only 42% knew about PrEP. Those who had been tested for HIV in the previous year were more likely to be aware of it. 

Having recently seen a doctor or getting tested for another sexually transmitted disease did not increase the likelihood that MSM knew about the preventive drug, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found.

The findings suggest many health care providers do not discuss PrEP with MSM and other high-risk patients, even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the therapy for them.

“Doctors have limited time with their patients, but with gay and bisexual male patients, physicians definitely need to make it a point to discuss HIV risks and whether PrEP is a good option,” study leader Julia Raifman, ScD, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a Hopkins news release. 

“Health care providers may be unfamiliar with PrEP or may be uncomfortable broaching sexual health topics with their patients. Whatever the reason, we need to find a way to get PrEP to the people who can most benefit.”

Reference

Raifman JRG, et al. Healthcare Provider Contact and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis in Baltimore Men Who Have Sex With Men. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016 September 20. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.07.031. [Epub ahead of print]

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