PrEP user profiles, frequency of PrEP use and retention in care: a retrospective cohort analysis at a Belgian HIV centre (2017-2020)

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Introduction: The number of individuals initiating antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is increasing, but we do not fully understand who is coming forward for PrEP, how they use it and how they are followed-up. The objective of this study was to examine PrEP user profiles, dynamics in PrEP use and follow-up over time.

Methods: We conducted a cohort analysis of longitudinally collected clinical record and questionnaire data among PrEP users at an HIV centre in Antwerp, Belgium, between June 2017 and March 2020. PrEP follow-up and user profiles were examined using descriptive analyses and bivariate logistic regression. We compared early adopting PrEP users (started before June 2018) with late users. We also calculated the probabilities of switching between daily and on-demand PrEP, and interruption, using a naïve estimator.

Results and discussion: We included 1347 PrEP users in the analysis. After 12 months, retention in care was 72.3%. Median time between PrEP visits was 98 days (IQR 85-119 days). At screening visit, early adopting PrEP users (starting June 2017-May 2018) were significantly more likely to report one or more sexually transmitted infection in the prior 12 months, having used drugs during sex, a higher number of sexual partners and a history of paid sex and PrEP use prior to initiation, compared with PrEP users who initiated later (starting June 2018-February 2020). When taking PrEP daily, the probability of staying on daily PrEP at the next visit was 76%, while this was 73% when taking PrEP on-demand. Those using on-demand PrEP had a higher probability (13%) of interrupting PrEP care than daily PrEP users (7%), whereas those returning to PrEP care would mostly re-start with on-demand (35% vs. 13% for daily).

Conclusions: The majority of PrEP users in this sample remained in care after 12 months. The probability of remaining on the same PrEP regimen at the subsequent visit was high. Though, we observed a diversity of transitions between regimens and interruptions in between visits. Our findings reaffirm the need to provide tailored PrEP services, counselling PrEP users across their life course.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25953
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
Issue number7
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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