Taking place in twelve countries across Europe including Ireland, the Flash! PrEP survey examines attitudes toward and knowledge of PrEP
Over fifteen thousand people across Europe took part in the Flash! PrEP survey which examined people’s attitudes to and knowledge of the medication which is nearly 100% effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection.
With fifteen thousand, eight hundred and eighty participants throughout Europe and over five hundred from Ireland this survey revealed that the majority of participants were aware of what PrEP was, and wanted access to it provided by their governments.
The PrEP survey respondents were 92% male, 6% female, 2% transgender and with less than 1% other, with 70% of all respondents (10,288 people) situated in Germany. Owing to the unbalanced distribution of the sample, the results of the survey were presented in the following subgroups: Men living in Germany; men living in other countries; women; and trans people.
Men living in Germany
The men who responded from Germany were predominantly recruited via the gay dating app Planet Romeo, with half of them aged under thirty seven.
The survey was mainly completed by men who had slept with men in the last six months (67%) and who had a variety of relationship statuses: 34% were single, 19% were in an open relationship, 25% were in a relationship and 21% were having dates.
Less than two fifths of these respondents know what PrEP was before taking the survey (37%), but of those who did, eighty percent had a correct understanding of what PrEP was.
For those who had incorrect knowledge, the confusion between PrEP and PEP was the most frequent.
Nearly half of all respondents were interested in using PrEP (44%), highlighting increased safety and reduced anxiety as factors in their decision. Those who were not interested in using it were concerned about side effects, and didn’t want to have to take a medication every day.
80% of this group of participants believed that PrEP should be delivered in a comprehensive prevention package alongside regular testing, treatment and peer support, and forty percent believed that PrEP should be available free of charge for those who need it.
For the 4% of respondents who were already using PrEP informally, 70% of them did not have regular medical supervision for their PrEP taking, which is of concern because of the potential side-effects Truvada can have on kidney function.
Men living in other countries
The 4,201 men who responded from other countries were slightly younger on average, with half of them under 36 years of age, and the relationship status figures differ significantly from those in Germany. 45% of these respondents were single, with only 11% having dates. 27% were in a relationship, while 17% were in an open relationship.
76% of these respondents had sex with men in the last six months, indicating a higher response rate from gay men.
Nearly double the amount of male respondents from outside of Germany said they knew what PrEP was before taking part in the survey, 80% of them having a correct knowledge about PrEP.
Over half of these men were interested in using PrEP, citing the same reasons of increased safety and reduced anxiety as those men who responded from Germany. The main reasons cited for not being interested in taking PrEP were satisfaction with current methods of protection from HIV and not wanting to take a daily medication.
85% of these men believed that PrEP should be delivered as part of a comprehensive prevention package, with 51% of respondents hoping that PrEP would be delivered free of charge.
Women and Trans people
Of the 690 women respondents, over fifty percent were in a relationship, and the majority of them (64%) had sex with men.
Only 18% of women indicated that they were interested in using PrEP, with one of the main reasons for not being interested being that they felt that there were not at risk of being infected by HIV.
However, 84% of women and trans people felt that PrEP should be delivered, with nearly two-thirds of them wishing that PrEP would be free of charge for those who need it.
The trans people who responded to the survey were younger, with half of them under the age of 28. Only 36% of trans people who replied had sex with men in the past six months, with 37% declaring that they had no sex partners in the same time period.
44% of trans people were interested in using it, citing similar reasons for being interested in the medication as the previous groups (increased safety, reduced anxiety).
The study concludes with the following points of information.
- The level of knowledge was strongly dependent on the respondents’ pro les, ranging between 37% and 77%. Among the participants who knew what PrEP was prior to taking the survey, a great majority of them had a correct knowledge about PrEP.
- Interest in PrEP was relatively high among respondents, albeit lower for women.
- A great majority of respondents thought that PrEP should either be free, or at least covered in part by a health insurance.
- A non-negligible number of respondents are already taking PrEP informally, frequently without adequate medical follow-up.
Check out the full PrEP survey results here to get a more granular look at the demographics and each subgroups responses.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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