Role of Social and Sexual Network Factors in PrEP Utilization Among YMSM and Transgender Women in Chicago

  • Gregory PhillipsIIEmail author
  • Balint Neray
  • Michelle Birkett
  • Dylan Felt
  • Patrick Janulis
  • Brian Mustanski


Despite demonstrated efficacy, uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) remains low, particularly among high-risk demographics such as transgender women, Black men who have sex with men (BMSM), and young MSM (YMSM). Research thus far has largely focused on individual factors that may impede PrEP uptake in these demographics, leaving social network factors relatively unexplored. The present study used data collected from participants within RADAR, a longitudinal cohort study in Chicago focused on understanding the individual, dyadic, network, social, and biologic factors associated with HIV infection within YMSM. Of the 906 study participants who did not report an HIV diagnosis at baseline, 7.0% reported using PrEP in the prior 6 months. Recent PrEP use was associated with both individual-level (age and gender) and network-level factors (mean relationship strength, sexual network degree, etc.). These findings highlight the need to expand beyond focusing on individual-level drivers of PrEP uptake, as well as changing our understanding of who is most important within a network (centrality vs. strength of weak ties). Future work is needed to determine whether variables associated with PrEP uptake are similarly connected to PrEP adherence.


HIV PrEP YMSM Social networks Sexual networks 



This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (U01DA036939, PI: Mustanski; K08DA037825, PI: Birkett).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

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