Characterizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV PrEP care: A review and synthesis of the literature
The global COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures have caused disruptions to sexual health services and created additional barriers to the continuity of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among key populations. This review provides an examination of the influences of the pandemic on engagement in the PrEP care continuum. Using the PRISMA guideline, 46 studies were included in this review and the synthesis. Most of the studies were conducted in high-income settings through quantitative analysis. A majority of studies examining the changes in PrEP use suggested a decline or discontinuation in PrEP uptake during the pandemic. The most common reasons for stopping using PrEP were perceived barriers to PrEP-related care, having reduced sexual behaviors and fewer sexual partners, and reduced perceived risk of HIV infection. Limited studies documenting an increase in PrEP uptake were all in specific PrEP optimizing programs. During the pandemic, there is also an emerging trend of switching to on-demand PrEP from daily oral PrEP. Future studies should understand the mechanism of strategies that facilitated the improvements during the pandemic. PrEP implementation programs should consider alternative PrEP modalities and provide consistent and comprehensive knowledge about correct information.
- General HIV- population
- Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
- Biomedical interventions