“Being able to do whatever you wanna do as a woman is important:” a qualitative exploration of contraception as a frame of reference for HIV prevention with PrEP

Murphy, Emma C.; Danvers, Antoinette; Zamudio, Andrés R.; Avila, Karina; Proehl, Meghan; Gonzalez-Argoti, Tatiana; Mantell, Joanne E.; Bauman, Laurie J.; Dolan, Siobhan M.

Use of HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a strategic tool in the effort to end the HIV epidemic. 20% of new HIV infections in the US are among cis-gender women, yet they comprise only 5% of all PrEP users. Black women disproportionately bear the burden of new HIV acquisition and accounted for almost 60% of new HIV diagnoses among women in 2018. Increasing understanding and uptake of PrEP among women at risk of HIV acquisition in alignment with their reproductive values and preferences is key to increasing PrEP uptake and decreasing HIV burden in this population.

This study examines how experiences with contraception among women of color shape their perceptions and preferences regarding HIV PrEP to inform counseling that aligns with their reproductive values.

Women aged 18–45 who self-identified as Black or Latina were recruited at an academic medical center in the Bronx from June 2018 to July 2019. We enrolled 30 participants seeking family planning care (10), prenatal care (10), or care for sexually transmitted infections (10). Participants completed a brief written survey assessing their risk of HIV acquisition. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were then audio-recorded, transcribed, and entered into Dedoose. Grounded theory and constant comparison approaches were used to analyze the data.

Twenty-one participants (70%) screened positive for HIV acquisition risk. Four had received information on PrEP from a medical provider prior to the interview. Three themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) Similar to oral contraception, women conceptualized PrEP as a “daily pill” to support their reproductive health; (2) Women perceived PrEP as a tool to support autonomy and pleasure in their sexual health; (3) Like birth control, women desired multiple delivery options for HIV prophylaxis.

Contraception may serve as a frame of reference when counseling about PrEP among cis-women at risk of acquiring HIV. Our study suggests that this approach re-contextualizes counseling on PrEP within a sex-positive framework that prioritizes pleasure, safety, and autonomy as integral to sexual and reproductive wellness. Consideration of historically marginalized women’s experiences with contraception and reproductive values may facilitate their use of PrEP.


  • thumnail for 12978_2022_Article_1393.pdf 12978_2022_Article_1393.pdf application/pdf 191 KB Download File

Also Published In

Reproductive Health

More About This Work

Published Here
December 20, 2022


PrEP, HIV prevention, Birth control, Sexual health, Sex positivity