prevention

While global prevalence of HIV infection (percentage of persons infected with HIV) appears to have stabilized in recent years, the global number of people living with HIV is increasing because of ongoing accumulation of new infections with longer survival times, measured over a continuously growing general population.

Across the world, a small but growing number of countries have reduced HIV prevalence through sound prevention efforts. The high rates of transmission of HIV result largely from failure to use the available and effective prevention strategies and tools, and poor coverage of HIV prevention programmes. HIV prevention services were only reaching 20% of people in need in 2005, while coverage for key populations at higher risk of exposure to HIV were considerably lower.

Effective HIV prevention programming focuses on the critical relationships between the epidemiology of HIV infection, the risk behaviours that expose to HIV transmission, and also addresses the collective social and institutional factors, such as sexual norms, gender inequality, and HIV related stigma, that will otherwise continue to fuel HIV epidemic. 

Risk behaviours are enmeshed in complex webs of economic, legal, political, cultural and psychosocial determinants that must be analyzed and addressed by policies that are also effectively implemented, and through scaled-up programming.

Comprehensive HIV prevention requires a combination of programmatic and policy actions that promote safer behaviours, reduce vulnerability to transmission, encourage use of key prevention technologies, promote social norms that favor risk reduction and address drivers of the epidemic. 

Effective prevention efforts focus on measures that directly support risk reduction by providing information and skills as well as access to needed commodities (such as condoms, sterile injecting equipment, and drug substitution therapy) for the populations most in need.  In short, national planners and policymakers must: 1) Know their epidemic; and 2) Set priorities accordingly. 

Prevention and treatment must be scaled up in a balanced way, to capitalize fully on synergies between the two.  Comprehensive HIV prevention requires a combination of programmatic interventions and policy actions that promote safer behaviours, reduce biological and social vulnerabilities to transmission, encourage use of key prevention technologies, and promote social norms that favour risk reduction. 

HIV prevention includes addressing an array of issues discussed in other thematic areas in the policy section of the website. Forging links among HIV prevention with related programmes and services such as sexual and reproductive health services and legal services for women, can also contribute to intensification of HIV prevention. Strong linkages as well as special efforts to reach those at higher risk and excluded from access to services will result in more relevant and cost-effective programmes with greater impact.

Essential Policy Actions for HIV Prevention

  • Ensure that human rights are promoted, protected and respected and that measures are taken to eliminate discrimination and combat stigma.
  • Build and maintain leadership from all sections of society, including governments, affected communities, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations, the education sector, media, the private sector and trade unions.
  • Involve people living with HIV, in the design, implementation and evaluation of prevention strategies, addressing the distinct prevention needs.
  • Address cultural norms and beliefs, recognizing both the key role they may play in supporting prevention efforts and the potential they have to fuel HIV transmission.
  • Promote gender equality and address gender norms and relations to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls, involving men and boys in this effort.
  • Promote widespread knowledge and awareness of how HIV is transmitted and how infection can be averted.
  • Promote the links between HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health.
  • Support the mobilization of community-based responses throughout the continuum of prevention, care and treatment.
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  • Promote programmes targeted at HIV prevention needs of key affected groups and populations.
  • Mobilizing and strengthening financial, and human and institutional capacity across all sectors, particularly in health and education.
  • Review and reform legal frameworks to remove barriers to effective, evidence based HIV prevention, combat stigma and discrimination and protect the rights of people living with HIV or vulnerable or at risk to HIV.
  • Ensure that sufficient investments are made in the research and development of, and advocacy for, new prevention technologies.

The latest from the GCWA

  • 6 Sep, 2009
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    Protecting Mothers, Sisters and Partners From HIV

    Non-governmental organisations have raised concern over the lack of female condoms claiming that it undermines efforts to curb new infections. "In South Africa more than 1 000 people are newly infected (with HIV) every day. The majority of those are women. The epidemic in this country has the face of a woman. Advocacy towards prevention has been really weak", said Nomfundo Eland, Chairperson of SANAC's women's sector.

  • 6 Sep, 2009
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    South Africa / Prevention: Protecting Mothers, Sisters and Partners From HIV

    Non-governmental organisations have raised concern over the lack of female condoms claiming that it undermines efforts to curb new infections. "In South Africa more than 1 000 people are newly infected (with HIV) every day. The majority of those are women. The epidemic in this country has the face of a woman. Advocacy towards prevention has been really weak", said Nomfundo Eland, Chairperson of SANAC's women's sector.

  • 4 Sep, 2009
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    Rwanda / Prevention - PMTCT: Experts call for more efforts to curb Mother-to-Child HIV transmission

    Experts currently participating in the 59th meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) summit have called for more intervention to prevent Mother to Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT). Despite steady progress that African member countries of WHO have achieved in HIV prevention, more emphasis should be put to lower the infection rates. While addressing members of the Great Lakes Initiative on AIDS (GLIA) and Abbott Laboratories, an HIV researcher from the University of Witswatersrand and ANOVA health institute based in South Africa, Coceka Nandipha Mnyani urged officials to promote the best pr

  • 2 Sep, 2009
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    Recibirá Jalisco 52,500 pruebas rápidas de VIH para embarazadas

    Después de un retardo de varios meses en el proceso de licitación, la Secretaría de Salud estatal (SSJ) anunció que finalmente la semana próxima se dará a conocer el fallo de la empresa que surtirá a Jalisco con 52,500 pruebas rápidas para detección del virus de inmunodeficiencia humana (VIH) en mujeres embarazadas. “El fallo se dará a conocer a fines de la próxima semana, y se entregarán inmediatamente porque es una compra que ya se tenía prevista”, y el proveedor ganador deberá entregarlas de inmediato, informó la jefa del Departamento de Salud Reproductiva de la SSJ, Amelia Lizárraga Ruiz.

  • 1 Sep, 2009
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    Haiti / Prevention-PMTCT: Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Haiti

    Deschamps and colleagues set out to describe the effectiveness of a program designed to reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV at the primary HIV testing and treatment center in Haiti between 1999 and 2004.

  • 1 Sep, 2009
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    SRH-HIV linkages: evidence, review and recommendations

    SRH-HIV linkages: evidence, review and recommendations

  • 24 Aug, 2009
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    Ghana / Prevention: Ghanaian Women Rejects Female Condom

    Women are limited in their ability to negotiate the use of the male condom, even in the face of all the forms that HIV/AIDS epidemic has moved into, a form in which married women and women in stable relationships are at the most risk.

  • 21 Aug, 2009
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    South Africa / Prevention-Microbicides: Microbicide study in November

    A microbicide study involving 11 000 women from six African countries will present its results in November, deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told a SA National Aids Council conference on Friday. "Positive results would add to the tools that women could use to protect themselves from HIV," Motlanthe said at the HIV prevention for women and girls summit in Kempton Park."Many women, especially those who live in poor settings, do not have the ability or the knowledge to negotiate safer sex, this despite the fact that we have a Constitution that is deeply rooted in a human rights culture," he sai

  • 20 Aug, 2009
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    Prevention - PMTCT: Maternal HIV infection during pregnancy or breastfeeding poses substantial transmission risk for infants

    There is a high risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission if a woman acquires HIV after delivery and then breastfeeds, a Chinese study published in the September 1st edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases reports. A total of 104 women who contracted HIV through blood transfusions post-delivery were included in the study. All the women breastfed and 36% of their infants were infected with HIV.

  • 12 Aug, 2009
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    Cameroon / Prevention: Le Dr Etienne Nnomzo'o: "3,6 millions de condoms féminins d'ici 2012"

    Le Dr Etienne Nnomzo'o, secrétaire permanent adjoint du Comité national de lutte contre le sida, revient sur les stratégies de vulgarisation. Qu'est-ce qui est fait au niveau du Comité national de lutte contre le sida pour vulgariser l'utilisation du préservatif féminin ? Le préservatif féminin est un moyen, comme le préservatif masculin, qui permet de lutter contre le Vih/sida en cas de rapports sexuels à risques, mais aussi des grossesses indésirées.

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