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Experiences of HIV postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) among highly exposed men who have sex with men (MSM)


Objectives HIV postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated after sexual exposure with high risk of transmission. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are the main target of PEP. The aim of our study was to investigate the experience and shortcomings of PEP among people with a high risk of HIV exposure.

Design and methods Subjects with ongoing follow-up for HIV infection and PEP history were selected for the qualitative study. Semistructured interviews were conducted at the patients' homes. They were audio-recorded, transcribed and deidentified before data analysis, double coding and thematic analysis with an inductive approach.

Results Twenty-three patients were eligible for the qualitative study. Thirteen interviews were carried out. All patients were 20-60-year-old MSM. The median time between PEP and HIV diagnosis was 3.3 years (interquartile range (IQR)25-75=0.9-4.9). Many participants reported negative PEP experiences: awkward access to the PEP clinic, uneasiness and shame in the hospital setting, unpleasant interaction and moral disapprobation from the medical staff, treatment intolerance and prevention messages that were ’inconsistent with real life'

Conclusion Our data highlight PEP management failures among its target population that may have compromised any subsequent attempts to seek out PEP. Practitioners should be more aware of MSM sexual contexts and practices. PEP consultations should provide the opportunity to discuss prevention strategies with highly exposed HIV-negative subjects, which may include pre-exposure prophylaxis.

  • postexposure prophylaxis (hiv)
  • hiv
  • qualitative research
  • homosexuality
  • sexual behaviour

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