“I think everybody should take it if they’re doing drugs, doing heroin, or having sex for money”: a qualitative study exploring perceptions of pre-exposure prophylaxis among female participants in an opioid intervention court program

Przybyla, Sarahmona M.; Cerulli, Catherine; Bleasdale, Jacob; Wilson, Kennethea; Hordes, Melissa; El-Bassel, Nabila; Morse, Diane S.

Women’s rise in opioid use disorder has increased their presence in the criminal justice system and related risk behaviors for HIV infection. Although pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective biomedical HIV prevention treatment, uptake among this high-risk population has been particularly low. Considerably little is known about the interplay between justice-involved women with opioid use disorder and HIV prevention. The aim of this study was to explore PrEP knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions for personal and partner use among women participants in the nation’s first ever opioid intervention court program.

The authors conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 31 women recruited from an Opioid Intervention Court, a recent fast-track treatment response to combat overdose deaths. We utilized a consensual qualitative research approach to explore attitudes, perceptions, and preferences about PrEP from women at risk for HIV transmission via sexual and drug-related behavior and used thematic analysis methods to code and interpret the data.

PrEP interest and motivation were impacted by various factors influencing the decision to consider PrEP initiation or comfort with partner use. Three primary themes emerged: HIV risk perceptions, barriers and facilitators to personal PrEP utilization, and perspectives on PrEP use by sexual partners.

Findings suggest courts may provide a venue to offer women PrEP education and HIV risk assessments. Study findings inform public health, substance use, and criminal justice research and practice with justice-involved participants experiencing opioid use disorder on the development of gender-specific PrEP interventions with the ultimate goal of reducing HIV incidence.

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Also Published In

Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy

More About This Work

Published Here
December 20, 2022


Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV prevention, Opioid use disorder, Qualitative research, Opioid court, Drug court