CAHSS Faculty Articles


The Informal Use of Antiretroviral Medications for HIV Prevention by Men Who Have Sex With Men in South Florida: Initiation, Use Practices, Medications and Motivations

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Culture, Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care




Limited data suggest that some gay and other men who have sex with men are using antiretroviral medications informally, without a prescription, for HIV prevention. This qualitative study examined this phenomenon among gay and other men who have sex with men in South Florida. Participants initiated informal antiretroviral medication use as a means of protecting each other and because of the confidence in knowledge of antiretroviral medications shared by their friends and sex partners. The most commonly used medications included Truvada and Stribild. Motivations for use included condom avoidance, risk reduction, and fear of recent HIV exposure. Participants described positive and negative sentiments related to informal use, including concerns about informal antiretroviral medications offering sufficient protection against HIV, and limited knowledge about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Because the antiretroviral medications used for PrEP have the potential to prevent HIV infection, future research must consider the informal antiretroviral medication use and related concerns, including adherence, diversion and viral resistance.



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