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Hamilton, Jenness, and Goodreau Examine the Potential Contribution of PrEP Uptake by Adolescents

Posted: 11/17/2023 (CSDE Research)

CSDE Senior Research Scientist Dr. Deven Hamilton led research with CSDE Affiliates Dr. Samuel Jenness (Epidemiology, Public Health, Emory University), Dr. Steven Goodreau (Anthropology, UW), and co-authors, which was recently published in Plos One. Their article is titled “Potential contribution of PrEP uptake by adolescents 15–17 years old to achieving the “Ending the HIV Epidemic” incidence reduction goals in the US South“. The “Ending the HIV Epidemic” (EHE) initiative seeks to reduce new HIV infections in the U.S. by prioritizing federal resources towards highly impacted populations. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are essential for reaching EHE goals. Adolescents are often at increased risk for HIV because they may lack agency in negotiating their sexual partnerships and may not have the same access to treatment and prevention as adults. This study estimates the potential contribution of expanded PrEP coverage among adolescents ages 15–17 to achieving the EHE goals in the South.

An HIV-transmission model was built to simulate the HIV epidemic in the South. Increased ART and PrEP uptake were systematically varied with and without PrEP eligibility including individuals age<18. Prioritizing PrEP for adolescents had a negligible impact on incidence. At 50% uptake among eligible adolescents and 90% ART coverage, including adolescents only improved the percentage of infections averted from 80.1% to 80.3%. In 10 of 15 scenarios explored, there was no reduction in new infections when PrEP eligibility was expanded to include adolescents age<18. At 95% ART coverage at the population-level incidence among adolescents declined by over 80%, but PrEP uptake among adolescents did not contribute to additional declines in incidence among adolescents. Prioritizing PrEP for adolescents did not significantly contribute to reaching EHE incidence reductions goal. Focusing resources to specific adolescent populations at risk, such sexual minority males in high incidence settings, will remain an important public health goal outside the context of EHE.

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