Pre-exposure prophylaxis users' attitudes about sexually transmitted infections and its influence on condom use: a mixed-method study in Belgium

Anke Rotsaert, Christiana Nöstlinger, Ella Van Landeghem, Thibaut Vanbaelen, Edwin Wouters, Veerle Buffel, Gert Scheerder, Maarten Schim van der Loeff, Bea Vuylsteke, Thijs Reyniers

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Incidence rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are rising among men who have sex with men (MSM). Since the rollout of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), promoting condom use to prevent the spread of STIs has become more challenging. Using a mixed-method design, we explored MSM PrEP users' attitudes toward STIs, condoms, and condom use with nonsteady partners to prevent STIs. We triangulated data from 22 in-depth interviews conducted at a large HIV/STI clinic between August 2021 and January 2022 and an online survey among 326 PrEP users between September 2020 and January 2022. Interviews were analyzed iteratively using a thematic analysis approach. We used bivariate and multi-variate ordered logistic regression to analyze the online survey data. Themes identified in the qualitative data influencing condom use decisions to prevent STIs were as follows: (1) awareness (i.e., perceived severity of and susceptibility to STIs, condom counseling), (2) motivation (i.e., concerns about STIs, sexual pleasure and protection of own health), and (3) perceived social norms and practices (e.g., reduced condom use at community level). Overall, 10.7% of survey respondents consistently used condoms with nonsteady partners. Survey respondents who reported high or moderate levels of willingness to use condoms to prevent acquiring STIs were significantly more likely to use condoms for anal sex with nonsteady partners; those who initiated PrEP 6-12 months ago were less likely to use condoms. We found a wide variation in attitudes toward condom use for the prevention of STIs among MSM using PrEP. We recommend client-centered approaches, taking into account PrEP users' values and priorities toward STI prevention to help reduce the spread of STIs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAIDS Patient Care and STDs
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)483-492
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Male
  • Humans
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis/methods
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases/epidemiology
  • Homosexuality, Male/psychology
  • HIV Infections/epidemiology
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • Condoms
  • Sexual Behavior


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