Although 21% of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnoses in the United States are in youth aged 13-24 years, adolescent awareness and uptake of the HIV prevention medication pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are low. This study explores the attitudes and challenges that adolescents face while taking PrEP. Thirty interviews were conducted with Black and Latine (we use the gender-inclusive term Latine rather than Latinx for more appropriate Spanish pronunciation) students aged 15-17 who received care at school-based health centers (SBHCs) in the Bronx, NY. Transcripts were coded inductively and deductively using thematic analysis. Most participants were unaware of PrEP, but nearly all were enthusiastic when informed about it; a majority denied that they would feel any stigma when taking PrEP. Despite this high receptivity, multiple barriers were identified, particularly confidentiality from parents, low perceived need of PrEP and concerns about daily adherence and side effects. Adolescents overall were enthusiastic about the availability of PrEP and felt it empowered them to have control over their health. SBHCs were considered trusted sources of confidential, accessible care, and we believe that they can be uniquely positioned to mitigate barriers to PrEP distribution in the future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health