conception; HIV transmission; HIV prevention; patient-provider communication


Health Services Research | Immune System Diseases | Infectious Disease | Public Health | Translational Medical Research | Virus Diseases


Couples in HIV serodiscordant relationships frequently desire children. Although partners who are virally suppressed pose almost no risk of transmitting HIV to their partners, partners who are inconsistently on therapy may transmit HIV to their partners when attempting to conceive. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an available safer conception strategy for these couples but is not consistently offered. We sought to better understand barriers to PrEP implementation for couples seeking conception and patient perceptions on what providers could do to encourage use. We conducted in-depth, qualitative interviews with 11 participants representing six couples taking PrEP for safer conception in a safety-net hospital in New England. Semi-structured qualitative interviews assessed the following: Relationship nature and contextual factors; attitudes and perceptions regarding PrEP for safer conception; experience within health care systems related to HIV and PrEP; and facilitators, barriers, and other experiences using PrEP for safer conception. Four key themes have important implications for implementation of PrEP for safer conception: Knowledge and understanding gaps regarding HIV and PrEP among both members of the couple, role of insurance and financing in decision-making, learning to manage and adhere to a treatment plan, and the need for providers to enhance knowledge and offer further support. Addressing barriers to safer conception strategies at multiple levels is needed to prevent HIV transmission within serodiscordant couples who desire children. Providers can play an important role in lowering these barriers through the use of multiple strategies.