Why do HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis users discontinue pre-exposure prophylaxis care? A mixed methods survey in a pre-exposure prophylaxis clinic in Belgium

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It remains unclear why patients discontinue HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) care and to what extent they remain at risk for HIV when they do. We reviewed routinely collected medical records and patient questionnaires and performed an e-mail/telephone survey to assess reasons for discontinuing PrEP care, ongoing risks for HIV infection, and associated factors. Patients with more than two registered PrEP visits from a PrEP clinic in Antwerp, Belgium between June 2017 and February 2020 were included in this study. Patients who did not return for a visit after October 30, 2019 and who were not transferred out were considered as having discontinued PrEP care. A total of 143/1073 patients were considered as having discontinued PrEP care. Patients who discontinued PrEP care were more likely to be younger than those who remained in care (35 vs. 38 years old, p < 0.01). The most common reasons for discontinuation were having stopped using PrEP (62/101, 61.4%) and "COVID-19" (n = 35, 34.7%). The most common reasons for stopping PrEP use was a decreased sexual activity due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19; 21/62, 33.9%) or not COVID-19 related (10/62, 16.1%), a monogamous relationship (20/62, 32.3%) and consistent condom use (7/62, 11.3%). Among respondents who reported about current HIV risk the majority reported being at low risk either by still taking PrEP (32/91, 35.2%), consistently using condoms, or limiting number of sex acts or partners (58/91, 52.7%). No HIV seroconversion was reported.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAIDS Patient Care and STDs
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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