Culture, health & sexuality 2017 10 06() 1-15 doi 10.1080/13691058.2017.1380230
In the USA, gay and other men who have sex with men and transgender women are disproportionately affected by HIV. Uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), anti-retroviral therapy to prevent HIV-negative individuals from seroconverting if exposed to HIV, by members of this population remains low, particularly among African-Americans. We conducted two focus groups to assess responses to an online social media campaign focusing on PrEP use in New York City. We designed, produced and disseminated the campaign to address knowledge of PrEP; its physical and psychological side effects; and psychosocial barriers related to PrEP adherence and sex shaming. Focus group participants demonstrated a relatively high knowledge of PrEP, although considerable concern remained about side effects, particularly among Black participants. Participants suggested that stigma against PrEP users was declining as PrEP use became more common, but stigma remained, particularly for those not using condoms. Many focus group participants reported distrust of medical providers and were critical of the commodification of HIV prevention by the pharmaceutical industry. Participants reported that those in romantic relationships confronted unique issues regarding PrEP, namely suspicions of infidelity. Finally, Black participants spoke of the need for more tailored and sensitive representations of Black gay men in future programmes and interventions.