US: Taking PrEP has a profound impact on gay men’s sexual health and wellbeing

Men who have sex with men (MSM) in Seattle who had recently begun to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) described profound impacts on their sexual health and wellbeing that go beyond PrEP’s primary function of preventing HIV infection, according to a qualitative study recently published in the International Journal of Sexual Health.

“By lowering HIV risk and offering an alternative form of protection for MSM with low or inconsistent condom use, PrEP helped participants assuage feelings of anxiety and shame surrounding their sexuality, and facilitated greater sexual satisfaction, intimacy, and self-efficacy,” Shane Collins and colleagues say. However, it also exposed users to PrEP stigma. Both positive and negative impacts are likely to be key to PrEP’s acceptability, demand and patterns of use.

It's important to note that ‘sexual health’ is not defined simply by the absence of disease. “Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality,” according to the World Health Organization. Clinicians and practitioners wishing to promote gay men’s sexual health should consider the full range of impacts that PrEP may have, the authors suggest. Read more via AIDSmap