High Interest in Syphilis Pre-exposure and Post-exposure Prophylaxis Among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men in Vancouver and Toronto
Background: We assessed the acceptability of doxycycline-based syphilis pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP/PEP) as well as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) PrEP/PEP in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM).
Methods: We recruited gbMSM from Toronto and Vancouver sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics during routine visits from June 2018 to August 2018. We analyzed data using descriptive statistics and constructed multivariable logistic regression models for willingness to use syphilis and HIV PrEP and PEP respectively.
Results: Among 424 participants (56.4% Toronto, 43.6% Vancouver), median (interquartile range [IQR]) age was 31.0 years (26.0-39.0 years), 61.7% had completed postsecondary education and 54.4% were white. Median (IQR) number of male partners in the past 6 months was 6.0 (3.0-13.0), and 18.2% had 1 or more prior syphilis diagnosis. 60.1%/44.1% indicated willingness to use syphilis PEP/PrEP; 36.6% were unwilling to use either. Among HIV-negative participants, 74.0% and 75.2% were willing to use HIV PrEP and PEP, respectively. Most participants were familiar with antibiotic resistance (89.0%) and agreed that syphilis rates are rising in Canada (68.2%), but only 55.4% believed they were at risk for syphilis. Agreement with the latter statement was associated with willingness to use syphilis PrEP (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [95%CI], 1.0-2.5), as was previous/existing HIV PrEP use (aOR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.1-4.3) and being "very concerned" about STI acquisition (aOR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.0-3.4). Odds of being willing to use syphilis PEP were higher in Toronto versus Vancouver (aOR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2-3.4) and increased with the number of different STIs previously diagnosed (aOR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.2,1.7).
Conclusions: There is considerable interest in syphilis PrEP/PEP in gbMSM attending Toronto/Vancouver STI clinics.