Adherence to Preexposure Prophylaxis: Current, Emerging, and Anticipated Bases of Evidence

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Despite considerable discussion and debate about adherence to preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), scant data are available that characterize patterns of adherence to open-label PrEP. The current evidence base is instead dominated by research on adherence to placebo-controlled investigational drug by way of drug detection in active-arm participants of large randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Important differences between the context of blinded RCTs and open-label use suggest caution when generalizing from study product adherence to real-world PrEP use. Evidence specific to open-label PrEP adherence is presently sparse but will expand rapidly over the next few years as roll-out, demonstration projects, and more rigorous research collect and present findings. The current evidence bases established cannot yet predict uptake, adherence, or persistence with open-label effective PrEP. Emerging evidence suggests that some cohorts could execute better adherence in open-label use vs placebo-controlled research. Uptake of PrEP is presently slow in the United States; whether this changes as grassroots and community efforts increase awareness of PrEP as an effective HIV prevention option remains to be determined. As recommended by multiple guidelines for PrEP use, all current demonstration projects offer PrEP education and/or counseling. PrEP support approaches generally fall into community-based, technology, monitoring, and integrated sexual health promotion approaches. Developing and implementing research that moves beyond simple correlates of either study product use or open-label PrEP adherence toward more comprehensive models of sociobehavioral and socioecological adherence determinants would greatly accelerate progress. Intervention research is needed to identify effective models of support for open-label PrEP adherence.

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