Journal of Korean medical science 2018 03 1933(12) e91 doi 10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e91
We aimed to investigate the awareness of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among high-risk individuals, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and medical personnel (MP) in Korea through a cross-sectional survey, identify possible obstacles hindering their access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
In 2016, the first questionnaire survey was sent to randomly selected MSM and MP. To compare the changes in attitudes and knowledge of MSM, a second questionnaire survey was conducted in August 2017.
More than half of MSM (61.3% in 2016, 88.6% in 2017) were aware of PrEP. However, MP who offered PrEP had less knowledge regarding PrEP (23.4%). The background knowledge and experience with PrEP among MSM and MP in this survey was low (3.4% in 2016 and 5.7% in 2017, 1.9% in MP). The major obstacles that MSM reported were lack of insurance coverage (29% in 2016 and 32% in 2017), concern regarding adverse effects of PrEP (19% and 21%), and risk of exposing HIV-positive status to other people (15% and 18%). Among MP, lack of knowledge regarding the efficacy of PrEP was the most common obstacle (30%), followed by lack of insurance coverage (22%), and concern regarding adverse effects (20%).
Our study showed that PrEP is required among MSM in Korea; however, most MP were not aware of PrEP. Lack of insurance coverage and knowledge regarding PrEP were major hindrances in the access to PrEP; therefore, further studies on how to make PrEP information more accessible are needed to help prevent HIV infection.