PrEP has improved sex and health for many, review finds

Jul. 14, 2021
Men Holding Hands at Park

HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) has enhanced sexual self-esteem, improved sexual pleasure, reduced sexual anxiety, and increased sexual agency for those taking it, according to a review led by CUNY SPH researchers.

The review, published recently in the Annual Review of Sex Research, notes that while PrEP’s primary function is to prevent HIV infection in the event of exposure, the drug has also had a significant unintended impact to improve other facets of sexuality. The authors focus on the nearly ten years of research published since the FDA approved the first PrEP drug, with a specific focus on the ways in which different elements of sex and sexuality have been impacted among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), cisgender women, and transgender individuals.

The volume of research on PrEP among GBMSM is robust and found that PrEP improved sex for these populations. For many, the use of PrEP also led them to maintain their sexual and overall health.

“PrEP has been so exciting in terms of the meaningful impact it can have on moving us toward the end of the HIV epidemic,” says Professor Christian Grov, the review’s lead author. “Our review highlights the many unintended positive consequences PrEP also has to improve the sexual wellbeing of individuals who take it.” 

The authors note that literature on cisgender women and transgender populations is far less robust. It is important that future PrEP research focus on these populations going forward, Grov says.

Christian Grov, Drew A. Westmoreland, Alexa B. D’Angelo & David W. Pantalone (2021) How Has HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Changed Sex? A Review of Research in a New Era of Bio-behavioral HIV Prevention, The Journal of Sex Research, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2021.1936440