Social Stigma Prevents Use Of HIV Prevention Medicines In The US And UK, Study Suggests

First Posted: Dec 09, 2016 03:10 AM EST

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is one of the recently developed, highly effective HIV prevention medicines, which is available in clinics under the drug name Truvada®. A recently conducted survey in the U.S. and the U.K. suggests that the real time usage of the drug is limited among the highly susceptible population of homosexual men and transgender women in London and New York.

One among the 11 of homosexual men in London tested positive for HIV. They are designated as a highly susceptible group for HIV infection. In such cases, administration of Truvada®, one of the most effective HIV prevention medicines, can significantly help in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. However, the social stigma and misconceptions related to the effectivity of the drug, use of condom while taking the drug, are prevalent among the homosexual men community. Above all, many of them do not want to categorize themselves as high risk subjects for HIV infection or as a "Truvada Whore," who can have unsafe sex on a regular basis, just because they were administered with Truvada®, reports News Medical.

Similar perceptions toward HIV prevention medicines were also seen in the transgender women community in New York. According to previous studies, transgender women are 49 times more likely to get HIV/AIDS than the general population. In such conditions, Truvada® and other HIV prevention medicines can be life savers for the transgender women sex workers.

Unfortunately, the reality is far from this. Transgender women face many social stigmas and are often denied of regular jobs due to their sexual orientation, reports The New York Daily News. This compels them to rely on sex work for livelihood, which multiplies the risk of HIV infection, said Elizabeth Marie Rivera, who has been advocating HIV prevention for transgender women for many years.

The results of the survey were published in the Cogent Medicine Journal, Taylor & Francis. The authors commented that the common perception of homosexual men and women in the U.S. and the U.K.  toward HIV prevention medicines such as the Truvada® will definitely change, if the media and healthcare officials change the way the PrEP HIV prevention medicines are represented to the general population. They should be highlighted as "further level of protection" rather than made specific for high risk individuals.

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