Importance of Risk Perception: Predictors of PrEP Acceptance Among Thai MSM and TG Women at a Community-Based Health Service

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Abstract

Background:

HIV prevalence among Thai men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TG) are 9.15% and 11.8%, respectively, compared with 1.1% in the general population. To better understand early adopters of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Thailand, we analyzed biobehavioral and sociodemographic characteristics of PrEP-eligible MSM and TG.

Setting:

Four Thai urban community clinics between October 2015 and February 2016.

Methods:

Sociodemographics, HIV risk characteristics, and PrEP knowledge and attitudes were analyzed in association with PrEP initiation among eligible Thai MSM and TG. Adjusted analysis explored factors associated with PrEP acceptance. We then analyzed HIV risk perception, which was strongly associated with PrEP initiation.

Results:

Of 297 participants, 55% accepted PrEP (48% of MSM, 54% of TG). Perceived HIV risk levels were associated with PrEP acceptance [odds ratio (OR): 4.3; 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.5 to 12.2. OR: 6.3; 95% CI: 2.1 to 19.0. OR: 14.7; 95% CI: 3.9 to 55.1; for minimal, moderate, and high perceived risks, respectively]. HIV risk perception was associated with previous HIV testing (OR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.4 to 3.5); inconsistent condom use (OR: 1.8; 95% CI: 1.1 to 2.9); amphetamine use in the past 6 months (OR: 3.1; 95% CI: 1.1 to 8.6); and uncertainty in the sexually transmitted infection history (OR: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.4 to 3.7). Approximately half of those who reported either inconsistent condom use (46%), multiple partners (50%), group sex (48%), or had baseline bacterial sexually transmitted infection (48%) perceived themselves as having no or mild HIV risk.

Conclusions:

HIV risk perception plays an important role in PrEP acceptance. Perception does not consistently reflect actual risk. It is therefore critical to assess a client's risk perception and provide education about HIV risk factors that will improve the accuracy of perceived HIV risk.

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