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Brief Report

HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Engagement Among Adolescent Men Who Have Sex With Men

The Role of Parent–Adolescent Communication About Sex

Thoma, Brian C., PhD*; Huebner, David M., PhD, MPH

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: December 1, 2018 - Volume 79 - Issue 4 - p 453–457
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001837
Prevention Research

Background: Adolescent men who have sex with men (AMSM) are severely affected by the HIV epidemic in the United States. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has proven extremely effective in preventing new HIV infections among adult men who have sex with men, but no research has examined PrEP awareness among AMSM. Furthermore, initial research investigating PrEP adherence among AMSM has found low adherence to the medication regimen. Effective parent–adolescent communication about sex is associated with safer sexual health behaviors among AMSM, and parent–adolescent communication is one potential avenue to increase PrEP engagement among AMSM.

Setting: Participants included 636 AMSM in the United States who completed a cross-sectional online survey in 2015.

Methods: Self-reported data on PrEP awareness, attitudes about PrEP, and perceived behavioral control for PrEP usage as well as frequency and quality of parent–adolescent communication about HIV were collected from AMSM. Regression models predicting PrEP awareness, attitudes, and perceived behavioral control from communication constructs were estimated, adjusting for demographic covariates.

Results: Sixteen percent of AMSM were aware of PrEP. AMSM who reported more frequent communication about HIV with their parents were more likely to report being aware of PrEP. Among AMSM aware of PrEP, higher quality parent–adolescent communication about HIV was associated with higher perceived behavioral control for PrEP usage.

Conclusions: Despite high HIV incidence among AMSM in the United States, PrEP awareness is low in this population. Effective parent–adolescent communication about HIV and sexual health could increase AMSM engagement with PrEP and enhance PrEP adherence within future trials among AMSM.

*Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA; and

Department of Prevention and Community Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Correspondence to: Brian C. Thoma, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (e-mail:

Supported by NIMH Grants F31MH098739 and T32MH018951.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received May 02, 2018

Accepted July 24, 2018

Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.