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‘PrEP is not ready for our community, and our community is not ready for PrEP’: pre‐exposure prophylaxis for HIV for people who inject drugs and limits to the HIV prevention response

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Background and aims

Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, or 'PrEP', is the use of antiretroviral medicines by people who are HIV-negative to protect themselves against acquiring HIV. PrEP has shown efficacy for preventing HIV acquisition. Despite the potential, many concerns have been voiced by people who inject drugs (PWID) and their organizations. There is a need to engage with these views and ensure their integration in to policy and strategy. This paper presents PWID views on PrEP to foster the uptake of these opinions into scientific and policy debate around PrEP METHODS: Critical analysis of a report of a community consultation led by the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD).


The INPUD report highlights enthusiasm from PWID for PrEP, but also three main concerns: the feasibility and ethics of PrEP, its potential use as a substitute for other harm reduction strategies and how a focus on PrEP heralds a re-medicalization of HIV. Each concern relates to evidenced gaps in essential services or opposition to harm reduction and PWID human rights.


People who use drugs have fundamental concerns about the potential impacts of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV which reflect a 'fault line' in HIV prevention: a predominance of biomedical approaches over community perspectives. Greater community engagement in HIV prevention strategy is needed, or we risk continuing to ignore the need for action on the underlying structural drivers and social context of the HIV epidemic.

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