A recent article published in JAMA Pediatrics found that PrEP uptake and awareness are low among U.S. adolescents. The article, conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, reviewed study findings of fifty-eight published research articles, conducted from January 2009 to October 2019.
One of the biggest themes that emerged from the review was that PrEP knowledge and awareness was low among adolescents. Indeed, more than 80% of adolescents who were eligible for PrEP reported that their health care provider had never mentioned PrEP to them before. Additionally, knowledge of PrEP was lowest among those highest at risk for HIV, such as transgender women and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM).
Other findings of the review highlight the importance of health care professionals who work with adolescents, especially since many often do not offer HIV testing to their adolescent patients. Reasons for this include that many are unaware of the HIV clinical guidelines and recommendations specific to adolescents, or simply do not see the need in offering testing to their adolescent patients. Findings from other studies reviewed in the article revealed that health care providers had variability in their understanding of high-risk groups, as well as the importance of PrEP among adolescents.
The researchers concluded their review by providing recommendations to improve PrEP uptake among adolescents such as establishing adolescent-directed support groups, social media campaigns, and culturally appropriate messaging.
Health Project Coordinator
Center for Community Practice, University of Rochester Medical Center