Background: We constructed self-reported pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) cascades and explored factors associated with and barriers to PrEP use to inform efforts to support PrEP use among young women who sell sex.
Methods: Using self-reported data from HIV-negative young women who sell sex enrolled into a cohort study using respondent-driven sampling in Zimbabwe, we constructed PrEP cascades assessing knowledge of, ever offered, ever used, and current PrEP use in 2017 and 2019. We used logistic regression to examine factors associated with PrEP use by 2019. Through qualitative interviews with 43 women enrolled in the cohort, we investigated barriers to PrEP use.
Results: At enrollment, 50% of women had heard of PrEP, 12% had ever been offered PrEP, and 7% ever used PrEP. Over time, all cascade domains: 96% of women had heard of and 55% reported an active offer of PrEP. Among women retained in the study in 2019 (56%; n = 538), 34% ever took PrEP by 2019. PrEP use was associated with, at enrollment, reporting more clients in the past month (10+: 45% vs 1-3: 27% adjOR = 1.71 95% CI: 1.06 to 2.76), duration of selling sex (24%,2 years vs 38% 2-3 years; adjOR = 0.51 95% CI: 0.32 to 0.83), and having visited a female sex worker program in the past 12 months (55% vs 27%; adjOR = 2.92 95% CI: 1.91 to 4.46). Qualitative interviews revealed fear of disclosing sex work, HIV-related/ART-related stigma, and (opportunity) costs of accessing PrEP as barriers to use.
Conclusion: PrEP use was associated with factors known to increase HIV risk. Fear of stigma, disclosure, and supply-side barriers need to be addressed to increase women's ability to use PrEP.
- HIV infections
- HIV prevention
- oral pre-exposure prophylaxis
- female sex workers
- HIV PREVENTION