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Study aims to tackle stigma of PrEP use

A new study is aiming to tackle the stigma around the use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a lifesaving medication which can prevent the transmission of HIV.

Anthony Gifford talks about his research into the use of PrEP as part of NTU's Researchers Revealed

Despite its proven success in reducing the number of new infections, there is still a significant gap between those who could benefit from PrEP and those actually taking it.

Now, a three-part study led by Nottingham Trent University (NTU) PhD researcher, Anthony Gifford, supervised by Professor Daragh McDermott, Dr Beth Jones and Professor Rusi Jaspal, is set to improve understanding of what prevents people taking the drug – which is available on the NHS - and how to tackle the problems at root cause.

Findings from the first part of the study have so far revealed that the decision to take PrEP is heavily influenced by factors such as stigma and shame, including not wanting to be perceived as promiscuous, as well as perceptions that PrEP could be a waste of resources in a struggling healthcare system.

The second phase of the project is now recruiting 1,000 participants to take part in a short survey, allowing the researchers to identify and solve sticking points in the system and encourage access to the medicine.

Anthony, from NTU’s School of Social Sciences, said: “While things are improving, HIV as a virus carries huge amounts of stigma and causes a lot of shame. It seems PrEP, and those who use it, are also vulnerable to such stigma and shame.

“I want this research to empower those in need of PrEP, allowing them to make informed choices of whether it truly is suitable or not. The LGTBQ+ community is still disproportionally impacted by HIV, and while things have certainly improved since the initial HIV epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, there is still so much work to do.

“I am part of this community, and I am so moved by the individuals I have been able to speak to so far, who have shared their stores with me. Research like this is imperative to make real change and target a wider problem: the HIV epidemic.”

To take part in the study, participants must be an assigned male at birth who has sex with other men. The questionnaire takes around 15 minutes to complete and can be accessed online.

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked the second most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 1 June 2023
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences