Current US Guidelines for Prescribing HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Disqualify Many Women Who Are at Risk and Motivated to Use PrEP

Sarah K. Calabrese, Tiara C. Willie, Rachel W. Galvao, Mehrit Tekeste, John F. Dovidio, Cara B. Safon, Oni Blackstock, Tamara Taggart, Clair Kaplan, Abigail Caldwell, Trace S. Kershaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clinical guidelines for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are widely used to assess patients' PrEP eligibility. The guidelines include 2 versions of criteria - guidance summary criteria and recommended indications criteria - that diverge in a potentially critical way for heterosexually active women: Both require women's knowledge of their own risk behavior, but the recommended indications also require women's knowledge of their partners' HIV risk or recognition of a potentially asymptomatic sexually transmitted infection. This study examined women's PrEP eligibility according to these 2 different versions of criteria across risk and motivation categories.Setting/Methods:HIV-negative women (n = 679) recently engaged in care at Connecticut Planned Parenthood centers were surveyed online in 2017. The survey assessed PrEP eligibility by both versions of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, HIV risk indicators, PrEP motivation indicators, and sociodemographic characteristics.Results:Participants were mostly non-Hispanic white (33.9%) or black (35.8%) and had low income (<$30,000/year; 58.3%). Overall, 82.3% were eligible for PrEP by guidance summary criteria vs. 1.5% by recommended indications criteria. Women disqualified by recommended indications criteria included those reporting condomless sex with HIV-positive or serostatus-unknown male partners (n = 27, 11.1% eligible); 1 or more recent sexually transmitted infection(s) (n = 53, 3.8% eligible); multiple sex partners (n = 168, 3.0% eligible); intended PrEP use (n = 211, 2.8% eligible) high self-perceived risk (n = 5, 0.0% eligible).Conclusion:Current guidelines disqualify many women who could benefit from PrEP and may lead to discrepant assessments of eligibility. Guideline reform is needed to improve clarity and increase women's PrEP access and consequent HIV protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-405
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV
  • clinical decision-making
  • eligibility determination
  • patient care
  • pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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