News Release 

Fighting the HIV epidemic

Addressing perceived stigma about taking HIV Preventive medication key to helping women at risk

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

IMAGE

IMAGE: Penn Nursing's Anne M. Teitelman, PhD, FNP, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing, and one of the study's investigators. view more 

Credit: Penn Nursing

PHILADELPHIA, PA (NOVEMBER 4, 2019) - Stigma is an important contributor to the continued HIV epidemic in the United States. While pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that can be taken to prevent HIV infection, previous research has shown that a barrier preventing gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men from using PrEP is fear that partners, family members or community members would believe that those who use PrEP are HIV infected. Less is known, however, about these factors among women.

While women make up nearly one in five of all new HIV infections, PrEP is largely underutilized by women who are at risk for infection and little is known about the role of stigma among women. A new study that includes a team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), the New York Blood Center, and The CUNY School of Medicine at the City College of New York advances scientific knowledge about how stigma about PrEP use may affect whether or not a woman at elevated risk for HIV infection is interested in starting PrEP.

"Advancing our understanding of factors that influence uptake of PrEP among women is a critical goal, given how significantly underutilized PrEP is among women at risk for HIV infection in the United States," says Penn Nursing's Anne M. Teitelman, PhD, FNP, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing, and one of the study's investigators. Results of the study "PrEP Stigma, HIV Stigma, and Intention to Use PrEP Among Women in New York City and Philadelphia," will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Stigma and Health.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study Just4Us Study surveyed 160 women aged 18-55 years in Philadelphia and New York City, cities which have high HIV infection rates. The researchers used a scale developed specifically for women that includes an item of particular sociohistorical importance to people of color, low-income women and other marginalized groups of women. Higher stigma about PrEP use, but not stigma about HIV, was significantly associated with lower intention to start PrEP among the women who participated in the study.

The study recommends different ways to design behavioral interventions that specifically address PrEP stigma among women. They include:

-Expand public messaging to increase PrEP awareness and knowledge among women; -Include messaging that addresses the role of PrEP stigma and challenges stereotyped beliefs about women PrEP users; and -Design interventions that integrate stigma reduction at the individual and community levels.

"The next steps to address this gap are to use these findings to guide intervention development and to rigorously evaluate these interventions," said Teitelman.

###

Co-authors of the study include: Beryl A. Koblin, Bridgette M. Brawner, and Annet Davis, all of the University of Pennsylvania; Deepti Chittamuru, of the University of California Merced; Victoria Frye, of the City University of New York; and Hong Van Tieu, of the New York Blood Center.

This research was supported by a grant to Anne Teitelman (Principal Investigator), Bridgette Brawner, Hong Van Tieu and Annet Davis from the National Institute of Mental Health (1R34-R34 MH108437-01A1) with additional support from the Penn Center for AIDS Research (P30 AI 045008), and to Victoria Frye from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (1R21 AI122996-01).

About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world's leading schools of nursing. For the fourth year in a row, it is ranked the #1 nursing school in the world by QS University and is consistently ranked highly in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of best graduate schools. Penn Nursing is currently ranked # 1 in funding from the National Institutes of Health, among other schools of nursing, for the second consecutive year. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through innovation in research, education, and practice. Follow Penn Nursing on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Instagram.

About the New York Blood Center

The New York Blood Center (NYBC) is one of the largest independent, community-based, nonprofit blood centers in the United States. The Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) of the NYBC is a non-profit research organization established in 1964. The mission of LFKRI is to expand knowledge about and discoveries related to blood and blood-related diseases. Also known as Project ACHIEVE, the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases Prevention has conducted HIV and infectious disease epidemiology and prevention research since 1993. http://www.projectachieve.org

About UC Merced

UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest member of the University of California system, and is the youngest university to earn a Carnegie research classification. The fastest-growing public university in the nation, UC Merced enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in campus construction and design, and supports high-achieving and dedicated students from the underserved San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

About The City College of New York

Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its role at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight professional schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.