Introduction Physicians will have a pivotal role in ensuring appropriate delivery of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). The study’s objective was to explore Belgian physicians’ self-perceived knowledge of and attitudes towards providing PrEP and to examine factors associated with their willingness to prescribe PrEP.
Methods We conducted an online survey (available in Dutch, French and English) among Belgian healthcare providers from March to June 2016. It was disseminated by spreading a web-link through physician organisations, e-mail lists and professional associations’ websites. Bivariate analyses were used to examine differences between HIV clinicians and family physicians (FPs) regarding sociodemographic characteristics, experience with HIV and PrEP, and PrEP knowledge and attitudes. Multivariate logistic regression was conducted to explore factors associated with physicians’ willingness to prescribe PrEP in the future.
Results On a total of 381 completed questionnaires, 269 (71%) were from FPs, 39 (10%) from HIV clinicians and 73 (19%) from other healthcare providers. About 56% of all respondents agreed that PrEP is an effective preventive measure to reduce HIV infections in Belgium. Twelve physicians had already prescribed PrEP. Compared with FPs, HIV clinicians were more likely to report higher self-perceived knowledge of PrEP (OR: 15.9; 95% CI: 4.8–52.7) to perceive the application of PrEP as cost-effective (OR: 3.3; 95% CI: 1.6–6.8). HIV clinicians were also more willing to prescribe PrEP in the future (OR: 2.49; 95% CI: 1.14–5.45) than FPs. Self-perceived knowledge of and attitudes towards PrEP remained independently associated with the willingness to prescribe when controlling for potential confounders (such as age, gender or experience with HIV).
Conclusion HIV clinicians were better prepared and more willing to prescribe PrEP than FPs. With the likely forthcoming approval of PrEP in Belgium, awareness and knowledge of PrEP among FPs should be improved to ensure appropriate delivery outside of HIV specialised settings.
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