A social curse: An exploration into MSM attitudes and behaviours to pre-exposure prophylaxis usage
What we are doing?
Utilising a mixed methods design, the PhD aims to examine how social components (e.g. stigma, group identity), may contribute to poor attitudes to PrEP, resulting in poorer mental health and wellbeing outcomes. This shall involve interviewing both men who have sex with men (MSM) and sexual health service workers to provide a wider perspective than present literature. This will also include a longitudinal survey study informed by qualitative findings. The aim is that through this research exploring the social barriers to PrEP, interventions could be developed to reduce them, thereby increasing PrEP uptake thus decreasing HIV transmission.
Why we are doing it?
When taken correctly, PrEP prophylactically hinders the transmission of HIV. However, PrEP is highly stigmatized, an issue exacerbated by high risk groups (MSM) often experiencing social harm for their sexual identities. Moreover, this has been encouraged by the media. It is necessary that healthcare shifts to a preventative approach, yet until such issues as stigma are addressed, PrEP uptake shall be impacted. The present studies aim to explore the social components underpinning this stigma to result in better adherence to PrEP and better medical outcomes (i.e. a decrease in HIV diagnoses).
What the benefits will be and to whom?
The studies shall provide the much-needed information to inform interventions on how to tackle issues surrounding attitudes to PrEP. Although an inherently social issue, consideration of the impact of social groups, social identity and group membership has scarcely been considered. If the target of no new HIV diagnoses by 2030 is to be met, it is vital that focus shifts to prevention rather than cure. If interventions could be developed, this would not only benefit populations at high risk to HIV exposure, but also public health services due to the large cost of HIV treatment.
Who we are working with?
Nottingham Trent University, Sexual health clinics.
Daniel Griffiths, Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org.