Improving HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake and initiation: process evaluation and recommendation development from a national PrEP programme

Claudia Estcourt* (Lead Author), Jennifer MacDonald, John Saunders, Rak Nandwani, Ingrid Young, Jamie Frankis, Dan Clutterbuck, Nicola Steedman, Lisa McDaid, Jenny Dalrymple, Paul Flowers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is key to HIV transmission elimination but implementation is challenging and under-researched. We undertook a process evaluation of the first two years of a national PrEP programme to explore barriers and facilitators to implementation and to develop recommendations to improve implementation, focussing on PrEP uptake and initiation.
Methods: Stage 1 involved semi-structured telephone interviews and focus groups (09/2018-07/2019) with geographically and demographically diverse patients seeking/using/declining/stopping PrEP (n=39), sexual healthcare professionals (n= 54), community-based organisation service users (n=9) and staff (n=15) across Scotland. We used deductive thematic analysis, to derive and then map key barriers and facilitators to priority areas that experts agreed would enhance uptake and initiation. In Stage 2 we used analytic tools from implementation science to systematically generate evidence-based, theoretically-informed recommendations to enhance uptake and initiation of PrEP.
Results: Barriers and facilitators were multi-levelled and interdependent. Barriers included the rapid pace of implementation without additional resource, and a lack of familiarity with PrEP prescribing. Facilitators included opportunities for acquisition of practice-based knowledge and normalisation of initiation activities. We refined our 68 “long-list” recommendations to 41 using expert input and the APEASE criteria. Examples include: provision of PrEP in diverse settings to reach all in need; co-produced, culturally sensitive training resources for healthcare professionals, with focused content on non-daily dosing; meaningful collaborative working across all stakeholders.
Conclusions: These evidence-based, theory informed recommendations provide a robust framework for optimising PrEP uptake and initiation in diverse settings to ensure PrEP reaches all who may benefit.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSexual Health
Early online date15 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2023


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