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In Brazil, as well as in other parts of the world, relationship applications have been the main platform for sexual dates among men that make sex with men (HSHs). In the Brazilian average, HSHs access such applications three times a day. The dynamics of the applications is considerably different from the other interaction forms, and such popularity substantially increases the possibility of finding sexual partners.

The article Awareness of Prevention Strategies and Willingness to Use Pre-exposure Prophylaxis in Brazilian Men Who Have Sex With Men Using Apps for Sexual Encounters: Online Cross-Sectional Study[1] aimed at outlining the specific profile of users of applications, highlighting the perception of risk and awareness of the prevention strategies.

The study was carried out through an online questionnaire broadcast in the applications Hornet and Grindr on July, 2016.  During such period, users were invited to answer to the questions as soon as they accessed the application. Ten Brazilian capitals were included for analysis – Belém, Manaus, Salvador, Recife, Brasília, Goiânia, Florianópolis, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. The eligible individuals were of age, cisgender men with negative status to HIV.

During the 30 days of effectiveness of the questionnaire, 8,885 individuals consented to participate. Out of them, 23% were ineligible, 6,837 started the questionnaire, and 5,065 finished it. Among the total that finished the questionnaire (5,065), the majority was from Southeast of Brazil (70%), had average age of 30 years old and declared to be of medium or high class.

A total of 16% of the respondents has never gone through test for HIV; among the alleged justifications, the fear of a positive result was among the most answered. A similar number only tested once in life. The profile of respondents that have never gone through test for HIV was to be younger (between 21-30 years old) and have shorter time of formal education.

The previous knowledge of PrEP, PEP, and self-test of HIV was respectively reported by 58%, 57%, and 27% of the respondents.

Regarding the use of PEP, 9% reported to have used it in the last 12 months. Although it is available through SUS with no cost since 2009, the knowledge and wish of making PEP was considered low. Among the number that used PEP, 82%, 13%, 3%, and 3% reported its use, respectively 1, 2, 3, and more than 3 times in the last 12 months.

The majority of the participants was classified in the category of individuals that could be assessed for the use of PrEP. However, only 58% of the individuals already knew it.

On the other hand, around half of the respondents affirmed that they would use PrEP if it was available through SUS. The questionnaire also examined the administration method of the preferred PrEP of each one. The result was the following:

Oral daily PrEP: 52%

Injectable PrEP: 47%

PrEP under demand:  36%

PrEP during short period of vacation 92%

Would use, if it was commercially available: 51%

Would never use PrEP: 5%

A few of the respondents have heard about the self test of HIV. However, around half of them preferred such method to test the virus.

The results of the articles have some exceptions. A largest number of those that ended the questionnaire was of medium and high class, white, and with age between 25-36 years old. Thus, users of applications of other profiles may have not been duly represented. However, many of the results follow the numbers of studies with users of applications in other countries.

Link to the abstract:

[1] Authors of the article: Thiago Silva Torres, Raquel Brandini de Boni, Mauricio TL de Vasconcellos, Paula Mendes Luz, Brenda Hoagland, Ronaldo Ismerio Moreira, Valdilea Gonçalves Veloso, Beatriz Grinsztejn. Original title: Awareness of Prevention Strategies and Willingness to Use Preexposure Prophylaxis in Brazilian Men Who Have Sex With Men Using Apps for Sexual Encounters: Online Cross-Sectional Study