Journal of Medical Internet Research (Oct 2020)

Risk-Taking Behaviors and Adherence to HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis in Users of Geosocial Networking Apps: Real-World, Multicenter Study

  • Wang, Hongyi,
  • Zhang, Jing,
  • Chu, Zhenxing,
  • Hu, Qinghai,
  • Dong, Willa,
  • Huang, Xiaojie,
  • Chen, Yaokai,
  • Wang, Hui,
  • He, Xiaoqing,
  • Zhang, Lukun,
  • Hu, Zhili,
  • Bao, Rantong,
  • Li, Shangcao,
  • Li, Hang,
  • Cui, Sitong,
  • Jin, Xia,
  • Ding, Haibo,
  • Geng, Wenqing,
  • Jiang, Yongjun,
  • Xu, Junjie,
  • Shang, Hong

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 10
p. e22388


Read online

BackgroundOver half of men who have sex with men (MSM) use geosocial networking (GSN) apps to encounter sex partners. GSN apps’ users have become a unique large subpopulation among MSM for interventions concerning HIV prevention and control. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a promising measure for HIV prevention, especially for MSM, but its effectiveness largely depends on medication adherence. However, little is known about PrEP adherence among GSN apps’ users, which is critical to addressing the overall optimization of PrEP compliance outside of clinical trials in the context of large-scale implementation. ObjectiveThe objective of this study is to understand the correlation between GSN apps’ use and medication adherence among MSM receiving PrEP, with the aim to increase their awareness about PrEP use in order to increase adherence. MethodsThis study based on the China Real-world Oral intake of PrEP (CROPrEP) project, a multicenter, real-world study of Chinese MSM on daily and event-driven PrEP. Eligible participants completed a detailed computer-assisted self-interview on sociodemographic, GSN apps’ use, and sexual behavior. Then participants were followed up for 12 months and assessed for various characteristics (eg, PrEP delivery, adherence assessment, PrEP coverage of sexual activities, and regimens switch). A generalized estimation equation was used to analyze the predictors of medication adherence and regimen conversion among GSN apps’ users and nonusers. ResultsAt baseline, 756 of the 1023 eligible participants (73.90%) reported primarily using GSN apps to seek sexual partners, and GSN apps’ users are more likely to have high-risk behaviors such as multiple sex partners and condomless anal intercourse than other nonusers (all P<.05). During follow-up, GSN apps’ users had a significantly low level of pill-counting adherence than nonusers (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.8, 95% CI 0.6-1.0, P=.038). In the event-driven group, GSN apps’ users had marginally lower levels of self-reported adherence (aOR 0.7, 95% CI 0.4-1.0, P=.060) and lower PrEP coverage of sexual practices (aOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-1.0, P=.038). Additionally, GSN apps’ users seemed more likely to switch from event-driven to daily regimen (aOR 1.8, 95% CI 0.9-3.3, P=.084). ConclusionsGSN apps’ users are highly prevalent among MSM, despite their higher sexual risk and lower adherence levels, suggesting that eHealth needs to be introduced to the GSN platform to promote PrEP adherence. Trial RegistrationChinese Clinical Trial Registry ChiCTR-IIN-17013762; International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)RR2-10.1186/s12879-019-4355-y