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Patient and Physician Preferences Regarding Long-Acting Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and Antiretroviral Therapy: A Mixed-Methods Study in Southern California, USA


Antiretroviral therapy (ART) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are key strategies in ending the HIV epidemic. However, poor adherence to daily ART and PrEP increases the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition. Long-acting ART and PrEP formulations attempt to improve adherence through providing long-lasting forms of the medication delivered through different routes of administration: oral (potentially monthly), injection (1-6 months), and subdermal implant (up to annually). This study explored patient and physician preferences for long-acting ART and PrEP as well as adherence support strategies. Adult patients (n = 42) with experience taking ART or PrEP participated in individual interviews or focus groups. Physicians (n = 13) currently prescribing ART and/or PrEP completed an online questionnaire. Rapid qualitative analysis systematically synthesized qualitative data, and descriptive statistics examined survey responses. Patients supported improved adherence as a top potential advantage of long-acting ART and PrEP, and reduced internal stigma as a strong benefit specific to long-acting ART. Annual coverage offered through subdermal implants had strong appeal; however, oral was the preferred modality for long-acting ART and PrEP. Patients preferred injectable ART and PrEP if concurrently receiving hormone therapy injections. Side effects, medication cost, and treatment accessibility were potential barriers. Patients preferred calendar tracking and text messages/phone reminders for adherence supports. Physicians reported that they would reduce clinic visits and HIV testing for all patients on long-acting PrEP, except men who have sex with men who would continue to complete HIV testing every 3 months. Physicians were mixed on whether they believed long-acting ART and PrEP would improve patient adherence. Overall, findings demonstrate the potential benefits of long-acting ART and PrEP, while highlighting the need to obtain additional information to address treatment concerns.

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