Breaking Down Barriers: How Culturally-Adapted PrEP Programs Can Benefit Sexually Active Teenagers

August 31, 2023

PrEP For Sexually Active Teenagers

For many people, the teenage years are marked by increased physical, emotional, and social changes. During this time, many begin engaging in sexual activity. With sexual behavior comes the risk of contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases. People ages 13-24 account for 20% of new HIV infection cases. However, prevention options like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are still underused. By providing access to PrEP, culturally appropriate programs help address the problem so sexually active teens stay safe.

Culturally-adapted PrEP programs

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a medication that significantly reduces the chances of HIV infection. Yet, more than just making the drug available is required. Culturally adapted programs help address the importance of including cultural values and beliefs in prevention efforts. This simple step increases efficacy for particular populations, including sexually active teenagers who face specific difficulties and barriers when accessing healthcare services. Teenagers can be educated about the importance of HIV prevention within the framework of particular cultural and social norms. Culturally adapted programs can also clarify common misconceptions about PrEP use and offer guidance on using condoms and other prevention services like sex education.

It’s all about design

A multifaceted strategy helps to implement culturally appropriate PrEP programs for sexually active teenagers. Involvement from all sides ensures the program satisfies the needs of the participants. Common examples include community-based participatory research, focus groups, and surveys to gauge the attitudes, beliefs, and experiences of sexually active teenagers. Additionally, the programs should be delivered in various formats, such as peer-led discussions or social media campaigns, to increase accessibility and appeal to teenagers.

Training and systems

Teenagers are often concerned about stigmas and negative responses toward sex from adults and authority figures. Therefore, healthcare professionals and educators must be adequately trained to interact with the youth in a non-judgmental and culturally sensitive way. This simple step encourages teenagers to seek preventive services and be more open. Furthermore, to ensure the sustainability of these programs, healthcare systems and policymakers should provide funding and support.

Culturally-adapted benefits

With an accessible program in the community, teenagers gain increased knowledge and awareness of HIV prevention. Over time, there will be more favorable attitudes toward PrEP use. Additionally, such programs can lessen HIV-related stigma and increase teenagers’ acceptance of PrEP use. Other benefits include improving health outcomes of sexually active teenagers and reducing new HIV infections among youth. Teenagers can have a private, safe place to discuss sexual health without worrying about being judged or stigmatized, thanks to the implementation of culturally appropriate PrEP programs.

Reaching sexually-active teens is possible

To increase PrEP uptake, culturally-adapted programs must be designed with the input of teenagers and delivered in various formats. Healthcare professionals and educators play a vital role in interacting with teens in a non-judgmental and culturally sensitive way. Breaking down the barriers preventing sexually active teenagers from accessing PrEP can become a reality with these efforts, which will contribute to reducing the number of new HIV infections among youth.


“Since becoming a patient with HSNT, I feel seen, cared for, and more informed than I’ve ever been.”  –  Jordan Grahmann

What is your part?

Get in touch with us today and let’s end the HIV epidemic in North Texas together!

Ending the HIV Epidemic in North Texas - The Time is Now!

Have You Seen Our Outreach Efforts?

You may have seen our table ads in the community.  You can download them here:

Go to Top