Those who use PrEP for regular protection from HIV infection are also more likely to protect themselves in other ways, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Most PrEP users in the U.S. are gay and bisexual men, a community for whom experiences of discrimination contribute to a higher risk of mental health conditions, substance use and smoking,” said lead study author Julia Marcus to Reuters.
“For this reason, PrEP users stand to benefit from the increased opportunities for non-HIV-related screening and treatment,” Marcus said.
Daily PrEP users are more likely to get tested a number of other maladies, including Hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections. They are also more likely to undergo vaccination for the flu, receive tobacco screening, and get care for hypertension and weight issues.
The only component PrEP users scored lower on when it comes to hemoglobin A1c testing: while 78% of users were more likely to get a glucose (blood sugar) test for diabetes, they were 19% less likely to get an A1c test.
As patients taking PrEP usually have quarterly checkups, they do have a greater opportunity to access care overall, and this may be helping drive the results in the study.
The study’s authors also suspect that doctors screening these patients assumed they faced a greater risk than other patients, or that patients using PrEP were simply more likely to take care of their health overall.
Researchers spoke to 5,857 patients from a Boston-based community clinic that specializes in sexual and gender minorities. All of the participants were considered high risk for developing an HIV infection. 35% of the patients received a prescription for PrEP.
Of those studies, 40% received flu shots, while greater than 70% received tobacco and depression screenings. 51% were given hemoglobin screenings, while a mere 15% were given an A1c test.