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May 11, 2020

HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis Among Adolescents in the US: A Review

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Division of Infectious Diseases, Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Pediatr. Published online May 11, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0824

Importance  Many adolescents and young adults in the US are disproportionately affected by HIV. Several others who are uninfected are at risk and in need of effective preventive strategies. The uptake rate of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention has remained low among US adolescents. This review assesses the current status of PrEP uptake among at-risk adolescents aged 13 to 19 years and recommendations for improving PrEP access, uptake, and future needed directions, including specific recommendations for health care professionals.

Observations  Of the 37 377 new HIV diagnoses made in 2018, 7734 diagnoses (21%) occurred in adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 24 years; of these, 1707 diagnoses (22%) occurred in adolescents aged 13 to 19 years. The greatest burden of HIV is found among young African American men who have sex with men, accounting for two-thirds of all HIV infections in adolescents and young adults. Preexposure prophylaxis awareness and engagement are lowest in adolescents with the greatest risk for HIV. Adolescent primary care clinicians and specialists do not routinely offer HIV testing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or routinely assess sexual risk exposures of patients through sexual history taking. Clinicians’ decision to prescribe PrEP for adolescents is often guided by their perceptions of the patient’s HIV risk and their knowledge and acceptance of PrEP guidelines. State laws on consent, confidentiality, and the rights of the adolescent to independently access PrEP outside of parental influence differ across jurisdictions, often limiting access and uptake.

Conclusions and Relevance  Use of PrEP in adolescents at risk for HIV is an important component of HIV prevention. Optimizing uptake includes improving clinicians’ knowledge about HIV risk and prevention strategies, enhancing sexual history taking and risk assessment through training and retraining, and improving PrEP knowledge and acceptance of prescribing among clinicians. Leveraging the ubiquity of social media, encouraging family support, and performing research aimed at finding lifestyle-congruent formulations can help mitigate HIV transmission in adolescents at greatest risk for HIV.

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