Brazil recently became the first country in Latin America to roll out PrEP, the HIV prevention pill. It’s a crucial opportunity to make an impact in a country that reported approximately 48,000 new cases of HIV last year. Gay men are disproportionately impacted by HIV in Brazil; about 1 in 10 Brazilian men who have sex with men have HIV. PrEP has tremendous potential in a country like Brazil that has been so impacted by HIV. Gay men need to be able to take control of their health and access all prevention options. To find out how to best help the community, Hornet and UNAIDS Brazil conducted a PrEP survey.
The PrEP survey was conducted among Hornet users in Brazil. Over three weeks, the Hornet community was asked to participate — 3218 responses were collected. The findings will help us use data to inform the PrEP response, influence policy and mobilize the LGBTQ community.
The Key Findings of the Hornet PrEP Survey:
- Only 7% of respondents were currently taking PrEP. Prior to the Brazilian rollout, PrEP was available in through some clinical trials in Sao Paulo. Some people have been able to order it online.
- 36.2% were likely to use PrEP in the next six months. The government and community must work together to ensure that gay men have all the information they need to access PrEP. Additionally, there’s still more work to do to increase the demand for PrEP.
- 27.8% reported being HIV-positive. That’s a very high number and serves to highlight just how severely impacted gay men are by HIV. HIV infections continue to rise among gay men. However, PrEP, along with frequent testing and immediate treatment, can help reduce new infections. It’s also a reminder that while PrEP is a new, exciting option, we must be able to address the needs of HIV-negative and -positive men at the same time.
- 27% reported being diagnosed with an STI in the past year. Being diagnosed with an STI in the past year is a risk factor for HIV. One of the great things about PrEP is that it requires regular STI screening so that if men have an STI, it can be quickly treated.
- 41% gained information from Hornet’s Know Your Status feature, further demonstrating that in-app health information is useful.
- 43% of respondents learned about PrEP via the internet. 20.4% learned about PrEP from Hornet, and 11.7% learned about it from friends. This just shows how important it is to share information about PrEP on social media and why it’s so important to talk to our friends about sex and PrEP.
- 66% of respondents said they were happy with their sex lives. 22% were unsure, but 17% were unhappy. While there are many reasons one could be unhappy with their sex lives, PrEP can help remove the fear and anxiety so many gay men report during sex.
The PrEP rollout in Brazil has just begun. Within a few months, we’ll better understand how gay men are responding to it. But one thing is clear: PrEP will be made available will only be for about 10,000 people, which is nowhere near enough in a country of over 200 million people. Hopefully with data like this, from PrEP surveys like ours, will pressure the Brazilian government to do more. The lives of gay men have value. If the government of Brazil truly believes that, they must demonstrate it by investing in our community’s health.
Featured image by marstockphoto via iStock