Assessment of Knowledge and Attitudes toward Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) among Future Health Professionals

In the last decade, the HIV prevention field has witnessed a distinct shift, with emphasis on biomedical strategies to supplement behavioral interventions. One of these approaches is the use of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), co-formulated antiretroviral medications taken to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

UB Principal Investigator: Sarahmona Przybyla, PhD, MPH

Co-Principal Investigators: Diane Morse, MD (University of Rochester)

Funding Agency: University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research

Period: 6/2017 – 5/2018

Abstract: In the last decade, the HIV prevention field has witnessed a distinct shift, with emphasis on biomedical strategies to supplement behavioral interventions. One of these approaches is the use of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), co-formulated antiretroviral medications taken to reduce the risk of HIV infection. PrEP provides an important public health opportunity to substantially decrease HIV incidence. However, while PrEP acceptability and adoption is growing since its FDA approval in 2012, uptake has not kept pace with expectations despite clinical practice guidelines supporting its use. To maximize its prevention potential, the public health impact of PrEP requires a two-pronged approach that will lead to: 1) large-scale adoption among eligible populations and 2) identification of current gaps in knowledge and prescription behaviors among health care providers. While recent studies have examined provider perspectives that may serve as facilitators or barriers to PrEP promotion, few studies have examined PrEP viewpoints among future health care professionals (i.e., current students training in medicine, nursing, and pharmacy). There is an urgent need to understand PrEP knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs that may ultimately influence decisions to endorse and disseminate PrEP for both individual and public health benefits. The proposed pilot study will involve a web-based survey of students training in medical and nursing programs at the University of Rochester and medical, nursing, and pharmacy programs at the University at Buffalo to examine knowledge and attitudes towards PrEP among future health professionals. Findings from the proposed study will guide future research to begin development of an intervention to support PrEP education among students in the health professions.