September 15, 2016
This article originally appeared on Plus Magazine.
A new report on pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, released by APLA Health, in partnership with the University of California HIV/AIDS Research Program (CHRP), called “Addressing PrEP Disparities Among Young Gay and Bisexual Men in California” revealed less than 10 percent of gay and bisexual men have used PrEP, and that black and Latinos face more barriers in accesssing the HIV-preventative drug.
After polling 600 young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (YMSM), researchers found that blacks and Latinos not only have a harder time getting PrEP, but most of them weren’t even aware it existed.
While 73 percent of participants were aware of PrEP, the awareness of it was lower among blacks and Latinos, especially to those between the ages of 18 and 21. Only 9.6 percent of Latinos used PrEP, despite most participants (55.9 percent) claiming an interest in practicing it if it were made available to them. Plus covered a story featuring a series of PSA’s produced by Public Health Solutions that specifically addressed the Black and Latino community, you can watch it here.
Seeing as PrEP is one of the best tools out there to prevent HIV transmission, why haven’t young black and Hispanic YMSM — two groups who are at highest risk for HIV in America — heard about it? Unfortunately there is not a strong enough strategy to reach them in California (perhaps the whole country). APLA Health Chief Executive Officer Craig E. Thompson agrees.
“These results clearly show that young gay and bisexual men are interested in taking PrEP if they know about it and can easily access it,” Thompson said in a press release. “We must eliminate social and structural barriers to this highly effective HIV prevention tool. APLA Health is proud to take a leadership role in making sure that everyone who wants or needs PrEP is able to benefit from it.”