PrEP users face rampant stigma & slut-shaming, study finds

Blue pill labeled "PrEP"

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Users of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV transmission often face stigma and negative comments for doing so, according to a survey published in FS magazine.

The British magazine spoke with 756 men who have sex with men, and asked for their opinions on PrEP use. 35% of those they surveyed were active users of the medication.

Of those who do use the treatment, 33% have faced have faced a negative reaction because they use PrEP, with an additional 9% being unsure.

Many have also been warned by others that PrEP doesn’t combat other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including beliefs that people should “just use condoms,” that PrEP use means they’re a “slut,” and don’t care about their health.

Many also have been told that the medication is too expensive and should not be provided to gay men through Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Related: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives $140 million to develop PrEP pump

The NHS is in the midst of exploring covering the medication, which is not yet widely available through then. Half of those surveyed indicated they were a part of the NHS’s trial program to explore coverage.

Most of those surveyed do feel the NHS should cover the drug, and 30% were unable to get into a trial program. An additional 31% indicated that they are not using PrEP because they simply could to afford it.

In spite of the stigma, 44% of HIV positive gay and bisexual men feel that PrEP use has reduced the stigma around HIV. Also, 80% of those respondents also feel that PrEP could have prevented them from being infected with HIV.

Finally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, 99% of those surveyed who are currently taking PrEP say that they would recommend it to others. Only two people would not.

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