Increased Risk of STI Associated with PrEP Not Due to Decreased Condom Use

A new study found an increased likelihood of contracting an STI among those who started PrEP – however, contrary to popular belief, it’s not because of decreased condom use, reported LGBTQ Nation.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 2,981 participants, 98.5 percent of whom identified as gay or bisexual men, taking PrEP daily. Nearly half of these men contracted an STI during the study, with 1,437 participants experiencing 2,928 STIs.  The majority of those who contracted STIs dealt with incidences of chlamydia.

However, there wasn’t a link between these STIs and decreased condom usage, a common misconception about PrEP usage. Because PrEP is found to e 99 percent effective is preventing the transmission of HIV, many don’t use condoms when having sex. This leads many to believe that this condomless sex leads to an increase in contraction of STIs.

Instead, researchers found that a greater number of partners, as well as age, were factors.

“Amon 2058 participants with complete data for multivariable analysis, younger age, greater partner number, and group sex were associated with greater STI risk, but condom use was not,” the authors of the study wrote.

The study also found that STI rates were higher among those who had begun PrEP during the study than those who’d already been using it.

“[R]eceipt of PrEP after study enrollment was associated with an increased incidence of STIs compared with pre-enrollment,” the study said.

For gay and bisexual men on PrEP, particularly those with the found risk factors, researchers suggest “frequent STI testing” to ensure sexual health.