Perceptions of sexually transmissible infection pre-exposure prophylaxis: a qualitative study of high-risk gay and bisexual men in Sydney, New South Wales

Horn et al.
Horn et al.
|March 26, 2020


Background: Novel sexually transmissible infection (STI) prevention strategies are needed to combat increasing bacterial STI incidences alongside decreasing condom use among gay and bisexual men (GBM) in Australia. Sexually transmissible infection pre-exposure prophylaxis (STI-PrEP) using regular doxycycline is one such strategy that is the subject of ongoing research. However, a lack of qualitative data regarding the conceptualization, perceived risks, perceived benefits and preferred dosing strategies of STI-PrEP may impede future research and implementation efforts.

Methods: Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with 13 high-risk GBM residing in Sydney, Australia. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and then analysed thematically.

Results: STI-PrEP was largely conceptualized using pre-existing knowledge of HIV-PrEP. The perceived benefits, including a reduced incidence of STIs, destigmatisation and a ‘peace of mind’, often outweighed the perceived risks, including side effects, antibiotic resistance and stigmatisation of consumers. A daily dosing regimen was preferred unanimously by participants when compared with event-driven or episodic strategies.

Conclusions: Participants of this study were cautiously optimistic regarding the concept of STI-PrEP. The findings suggest that, in addition to examining the effectiveness of STI-PrEP, future implementation studies should also focus on concerns regarding side effects and monitoring antibiotic resistance, as well as considering the acceptability and potential for stigmatisation of STI-PrEP consumers