At-risk adolescents and young adults, HIV prevention, pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP education, PrEP provider



  1. Mocorro, Igor DNP, MPH, RN, PHN (Nurse Manager)


Background: Adolescents and young adults (AYA) ages 13 to 24 years comprise a quarter of the new HIV diagnoses in the United States. Lack of access to HIV-preventive biomedical tools such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduces opportunities to prevent HIV infection in this population. Initiating PrEP in AYA significantly reduces the negative health outcomes of HIV, but many providers are still reluctant to initiate PrEP in their AYA patients based on perceived threats and barriers.


Objectives: This review aims to highlight the barriers and opportunities for initiating PrEP services in AYA and provides recommendations for PrEP services in this population.


Data sources: Ten scholarly articles rated levels IIA through IIIB were identified using the Johns Hopkins Evidence-Based Practice ratings. These included quasi-experimental and nonexperimental publications. Both quantitative and qualitative data contributed to identifying perceived barriers, opportunities, and recommendations for increased PrEP access and prescription in AYA.


Conclusions: Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a vital component of a robust HIV prevention program. Themes that emerged hindering optimal PrEP utilization in AYA included provider-related barriers (e.g., knowledge deficit, lack of familiarity with PrEP guidelines, and protocols), patient-related barriers (e.g., lack of awareness, confidentiality issue, and HIV stigma), and structure-related barriers (e.g., lack of AYA-friendly clinics and insurance coverage).


Implications for practice: Providers in any setting should be able identify at-risk AYA and prescribe PrEP accordingly. Nurse practitioners should make PrEP accessible to AYA by addressing the barriers to PrEP utilization, prescribing, and continuity of care. Nurse practitioner curriculum, training, and continuing education should include PrEP for AYA.