Title :

“I wish to remain HIV negative”: Pre-exposure prophylaxis adherence and persistence in transgender women and men who have sex with men in coastal Kenya.

Abstract :

Background: Transgender women (TGW) and men who have sex with men (MSM) in sub-Saharan Africa have high HIV acquisition risks and can benefit from daily pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). We assessed PrEP adherence by measuring tenofovir-diphosphate (TFV-DP) levels and explore motives for PrEP persistence in TGW and MSM.

Methods: Participants were enrolled in a one-year PrEP programme and made quarterly visits irrespective of whether they were still using PrEP. At their month 6 visit, participants provided a dried blood spot to test for TFV-DP levels; protective levels were defined as those compatible with ≥4 pills per week (700-1249 fmol/punch). Before TFV-DP levels were available, a sub-set of these participants were invited for an in-depth interview (IDI). Semi-structured IDI topic guides were used to explore motives to uptake, adhere to, and discontinue PrEP. IDI data were analyzed thematically.

Results: Fifty-three participants (42 MSM and 11 TGW) were enrolled. At month 6, 11 (20.7%) participants (8 MSM and 3 TGW) were lost to follow up or stopped taking PrEP. Any TFV-DP was detected in 62.5% (5/8) of TGW vs. 14.7% of MSM (5/34, p = 0.01). Protective levels were detected in 37.5% of TGW (3/8), but not in any MSM. Nineteen IDI were conducted with 7 TGW and 9 MSM on PrEP, and 1 TGW and 2 MSM off PrEP. Unplanned or frequent risky sexual risk behaviour were the main motives for PrEP uptake. Among participants on PrEP, TGW had a more complete understanding of the benefits of PrEP. Inconsistent PrEP use was attributed to situational factors. Motives to discontinue PrEP included negative reactions from partners and stigmatizing healthcare services.

Conclusion: While MSM evinced greater adherence challenges in this PrEP programme, almost 40% of TGW were protected by PrEP. Given high HIV incidences in TGW these findings hold promise for TGW PrEP programming in the region.

Authors :

Kimani M, van der Elst EM, Chirro O, Wahome E, Ibrahim F, Mukuria N, de Wit TFR, Graham SM, Operario D, Sanders EJ.

PubMed link :

Journals :

PLoS One. 2021