Introduction According to the HIV Surveillance System, there has been an increase in newly reported cases of HIV among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in Puerto Rico when compared to intravenous drug users. The Youth Prevention Program (YPREV) which aims to monitor high-risk practices in young men (18–24 years old) and provide services for this population in the Western region of the island was developed between the academia and community-based organisations (CBOs) with the aim of decreasing health disparities in youth in universities and surrounding communities. This study presents data on the first year of the needs assessment concerning HIV testing and prevention methods as well as our ongoing efforts after gathering this data.
Methods To determine the needs and outline the strategic plan of YPREV, a mixed methods approach was used. The first phase consisted of developing and carrying out a needs assessment which was performed from March 2016 until September 2016. A total of 183 YMSM were recruited using a convenience sampling. Descriptive analysis was used to portray reported prevention efforts for HIV among YMSM.
Results Our results showed that 36.3% of the participants reported never being tested for HIV. Among those never being tested, 28.6% didn’t know where to get tested, 27.1% did not want to use their parent’s medical insurance and 17.1% feared of obtaining the results. An overwhelming 90.7% reported that they were willing to get tested if the test were free. Most (73.1%) reported never having been offered an HIV test by their health provider or CBO. 42.6% reported not knowing where they can obtain free condoms in campus or surrounding communities, while 35.3% of the participants who had sexual relations in the last 30 days with men reported not using a condom.
Conclusion YPREV intends to increase training activities for health providers regarding the importance of HIV testing and has implemented free monthly HIV testing clinics since September 2016. This program aims to strengthen prevention initiatives for young men at risk for HIV.
Support: The Youth Prevention Program is part the CCC and is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA ) grant # 1H79SP021376.