Background: Since 2010, the North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN) has led HIV and viral hepatitis treatment and prevention advocacy and lobbying efforts in North Carolina (NC), a state in the southern United States. The NC Division of Public Health estimates that there are 35,045 people living with HIV in NC. There is limited data related to Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) usage, however Emory University estimates through their AIDSVu project that there 1,798 people on PrEP in North Carolina.
Methods: In 2018, NCAAN commissioned a public opinion survey by Public Policy Polling to determine if NC residents had heard heard of PrEP and if they supported local health department efforts to increase access to PrEP. The survey was performed on July 30th and 31st, 2018, and surveyed 409 NC residents.
Results: According to the poll results, only 9% of respondents had heard of PrEP, and 59% had not. 32% answered that they were not sure. Once those surveyed were informed about PrEP, a majority (55%) supported efforts in local health departments to fund programs to provide PrEP to low-income individuals who might not be able to access it otherwise. Support was strong across all demographic breakdowns, including political party, gender, race, and age.
The survey results were disseminated via e-mail directly to all local health directors in NC and were shared in a webinar co-hosted by the Latino Commission on AIDS''s (LCOA) Latinos in the Deep South project and NCAAN.
Conclusions: Rigorous, scientifically sound public opinion polls can be a powerful tool to advance HIV prevention efforts. Since publication, the survey results have been presented as justification for increased activity to support PrEP access at Ryan White Planning Council meetings and presentations before local boards of health.
NCAAN and LCOA plan to replicate the survey with broader demographic information and increased questions in 2019.