AIDS care 2017 08 22() 1-8 doi 10.1080/09540121.2017.1360992
The use of recreational drugs while having sex is associated with increased HIV incidence among men who have sex with men (MSM). Taking a daily antiretroviral pill, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a biomedical intervention to prevent HIV. However, the efficacy of PrEP is closely tied with high levels of adherence. While PrEP has the potential to reduce HIV acquisition, the use of recreational drugs may impede adherence. We explored perceptions of PrEP utilization and regimen preferences among 40 HIV-negative, MSM who reported concurrent recreational drug use and condomless anal sex with a man. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted and the data were analyzed using a qualitative descriptive approach. Participants perceived that it would be challenging to take PrEP while high on crystal meth, crack, powder cocaine, ecstasy and/or GHB. However, men identified strategies for using PrEP when they were not high on these drugs, including taking the pill when they started their day and integrating PrEP into an established routine, such as when taking other medications or preparing for sex. PrEP regimen preferences seemed to be shaped by the frequency in which participants used drugs and their ability to plan for sex. Taking PrEP everyday was appealing for those who regularly engaged in sexualized recreational drug use. Accounts depict these sexual interactions as frequent but unpredictable. A daily regimen would allow them to be prepared for sex without having to plan. An event-driven regimen was acceptable to men who occasionally used recreational drugs in the context of sex. For this group, sex usually occurred was generally prearranged. Patterns of sex and recreational drug use figured largely into participants’ framings of how they would use PrEP. These behaviors will likely play a role in the uptake of and adherence to PrEP among this population.