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Bio-medical HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of an antiretroviral drug shown to drastically decrease the transmission of HIV between sexual partners. However, there are reports that peer evaluations are an important factor among men who have sex with men (MSM) who are considering or taking PrEP. We used a trait transference paradigm to characterize attitudes towards PrEP users, their sexual behavior, and transference effects on their social network. We recruited 339 men across nine cities in the U.S. from advertisements on a popular smart phone geospatial dating application to complete a survey. They read and judged vignettes about MSM and associated friends on their trustworthiness and responsibility, with the main character being described as having frequently changing partners (FCP) or monogamous, and taking PrEP or not. Our results mainly found PrEP praise within our U.S. sample, especially when evaluating responsibility, while FCP behavior was negatively evaluated. Lastly, we found minimal transference effects on the associated friends suggesting judgments arising from sex-related actions are anchored to the actor only. These insights identify contextual boundaries of associative cognition and can inform interventions hoping to improve PrEP acceptance and uptake.
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