Methods: We surveyed patients at two STD clinics in Cleveland, Ohio. The participants’ involvement was voluntary and anonymous. Participants were asked questions regarding demographics, sexual behavior and six different aspects of PrEP: (1) awareness/knowledge of PrEP, (2) access to PrEP, (3) openness to trying PrEP, (4) self-perception of HIV risk, (5) concerns about PrEP, and (6) interest in more information on PrEP.
Results: Among 405 patients surveyed, 251 (62.0%) were Black, 97 (24%) Caucasian, and 28 (7.0%) Latino; 51 (12.6%) were men who have sex with men (MSM). Most (81.5%) were not aware of PrEP and did not know where to access more information on PrEP (83.0%). Blacks were less likely to be aware of PrEP (13.7% vs. 29.8%, p-value<0.001) and know where to access information than non-Blacks (15.2% vs. 27.9%, p-value=0.005). A total of 65.4% of patients stated they would be willing to take PrEP. Black MSM were less likely to be aware of PrEP than non-Black MSM (35.3% vs. 75.0%, p-value=0.005) although neither had adequate access to PrEP. Patients less than 30 years of age were more open to taking PrEP than those above 30 years of age (84.9% vs. 69.9%, p-value 0.001), despite the two groups self-reporting similar risk of becoming infected with HIV. The most common concerns regarding PrEP were side effects (69.8%) and cost (22.6%).
Conclusion: We observed low awareness and access to PrEP that spanned gender, age, and ethnicity differences. Black MSM patients were less aware of PrEP than their non-Black counterparts, despite similar self-reported risk for HIV infection and willingness to take PrEP. A majority of MSM patients reported lack of access to PrEP but were interested in more information on PrEP. Approaches targeting vulnerable groups such as Black MSM are urgent to raise awareness and increase access to PrEP, as a means to address disparities in the burden of HIV in our community.