Barriers and facilitators to pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake among male sex workers in Mexico: an application of the RE-AIM framework

Nov 27, 2021 | Kadiamada-Ibarra

BACKGROUND: The ImPrEP México demonstration project is the first to distribute free HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women living in Mexico. In Mexico City, MSM who are also male sex workers (MSWs) face a disproportionately high risk of HIV infection. PrEP is highly effective for HIV prevention, yet “real-life” implementation among MSWs is a challenge due to the unique adherence barriers faced by this population.

METHODS: This study uses the RE-AIM implementation science framework to characterize the unique barriers to and facilitators of PrEP uptake among MSWs in Mexico City. We conducted 9 in-depth key informant interviews and 2 focus group discussions with MSWs across 5 clinic and community sites. Qualitative data were analyzed using inductive, open coding approaches from grounded theory. We supplemented findings from the primary qualitative analysis with quantitative indicators derived from ImPrEP program records to describe the current Reach of the ImPrEP program among MSWs in Mexico City and the potential for wider PrEP Adoption among other high-risk populations in Mexico.

RESULTS: The Reach of the ImPrEP program was 10% of known HIV-negative MSWs in Mexico City. Program Reach was lowest among MSWs who were street-based sex workers, of lower socioeconomic status, migrants from other states and self-identified as heterosexual. Barriers to program Reach included limited PrEP knowledge, HIV-related stigma, and structural barriers; facilitators included in-person program recruitment, patient-centered care, and spread of information through word of mouth among MSWs. Two out of the four eligible institutions had adopted the ImPrEP protocol. Barriers to wider program Adoption included HIV- and sexual identity- related stigma, protocol limitations, and lack of a national policy for PrEP distribution; facilitators of Adoption included existing healthcare infrastructure, sensitized providers, and community support from non-governmental organizations.

CONCLUSIONS: Increasing the ImPrEP program’s Reach among MSWs will depend on improving PrEP education and addressing HIV-related stigma and access barriers. Future Adoption of the ImPrEP program should build on existing clinical infrastructure and community support. Creation of a national policy for PrEP distribution may improve the Reach and Adoption of PrEP among highest-risk populations in Mexico.

PubMed Abstract

Kadiamada-Ibarra, H., Hawley, N. L., Sosa-Rubí, S. G., Wilson-Barthes, M., Galárraga, O., & Franco, R. R. (2021). Barriers and facilitators to pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake among male sex workers in Mexico: an application of the RE-AIM framework. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 2174. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-12167-9