Limited access to healthcare has been associated with limited uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM). This descriptive analysis examined, in a near universal healthcare setting, differences between MSM reporting using versus not using PrEP in the past 12 months.
Data come from the 2017 Boston sample of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) system, containing a venue-based and time-spaced sample of 530 MSM. The analysis used descriptive frequencies and tests of bivariate associations by PrEP use using Fisher’s exact test.
Five hundred four respondents had data necessary to determine if PrEP was indicated, and 233 (43.9%) had an indication for PrEP. Of these 233 participants, 117 (50.2%) reported using PrEP in the past 12 months. Not being out, in terms of disclosing one’s sexual orientation to a healthcare provider, lack of health insurance, limited access to healthcare, and history of incarceration were all significantly associated with not using PrEP in the past 12 months. Race/ethnicity was not significantly associated with PrEP use in the past 12 months.
In the setting of Massachusetts healthcare expansion and reform, and in a sample somewhat uncharacteristic of the population of individuals experiencing difficulties accessing PrEP, structural and demographic factors remain potent barriers to PrEP uptake. Targeted PrEP expansion efforts in Massachusetts may focus on identifying vulnerable subgroups of MSM (e.g., underinsured or criminal justice system-involved MSM) and delivering evidence-based interventions to reduce stigma and promote disclosure of same-sex behavior in healthcare settings.