We examined key gender, interpersonal and community dynamics influencing PrEP acceptability among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) and their male partners.
We administered 12 in-depth interviews (IDI) to partnered, or married AGYW aged 15–24 years living without HIV, and 16 IDIs to male partners living without HIV aged 18 or older, partnered or married to an AGYW in Tanzania. Card sorting, a participatory qualitative method for facilitating systematic discussion, was used to identify attitudes, values, and desires that would influence PrEP acceptability.
Relationship distrust, partner communication about HIV risk, and need to control HIV risk were highly influential considerations for PrEP use. AGYW and male partners both wanted to discuss PrEP use amidst relationship distrust, while most male partners encouraged AGYW PrEP use for shared protective benefit. Anticipated stigma of being perceived as a person living with HIV, as a result of PrEP use, was a deterrent for both AGYW and male partners while AGYW also feared additional stigma of being considered sexually promiscuous.
Couples counseling for PrEP uptake and adherence might be a well-placed strategy for couples who are living without HIV to educate one another about the relationship benefits of using PrEP, thereby increasing its acceptance and adherence, addressing unequal power dynamics, and reducing associated relationship distrust. Community awareness and education about PrEP can help curb persistent PrEP stigma, including intersectional stigma.