HIV Prevention Knowledge Base
Biomedical HIV prevention strategies use medical and public health approaches to block infection, decrease infectiousness, and reduce susceptibility.
Antiretroviral Therapy as an HIV Prevention Strategy
Antiretroviral therapy (ART), generally used to improve the health of the person being treated, can also serve as a preventive strategy by reducing viral load, which lowers the risk of transmitting HIV to a sex partner or needle-sharing partner.
Updated March 2012
Blood Safety and Availability
Inadequate and unsafe blood supply causes avoidable deaths and transmits infectious diseases, including HIV. Preventing transfusion of unsafe blood through improved screening of donors and testing processes, and increasing participation of voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors can significantly reduce the spread of HIV.
Updated February 2011
Contraception to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancies among Women with HIV
Providing family planning services to women with HIV who wish to postpone or avoid pregnancy can prevent vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child.Updated November 2012
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) likely facilitate HIV transmission and acquisition. STI treatment efforts have been used as an HIV prevention approach with mixed outcomes. This prevention strategy may be most effective in settings with a high burden of STIs and when targeted to most-at-risk populations and their sexual partners. However, randomized trials have found STI treatment to have little to no effect on HIV incidence.
Updated March 2012
HIV Testing and Counseling as Prevention
As a stand-alone intervention, HIV testing and counseling (HTC) contributes to prevention of HIV transmission by identifying and informing individuals, partners and couples, and families of their HIV status and counseling them to develop appropriate sexual, injection, or other risk-reduction measures. These measures differ according to the serostatus of the individual or of couples, be they seroconcordant (both partners test either HIV-positive or HIV-negative) or serodiscordant (one partner tests HIV-positive and the other tests HIV-negative).
Updated March 2012
Infant Feeding for Mothers Living with HIV
HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy or delivery. When a mother is HIV infected, her baby can also be infected through breastfeeding.
Updated: August 2010
Addressing injection safety helps prevent the medical transmission of HIV and other bloodborne pathogens to patients and health care workers.
Updated March 2011
Microbicides are products formulated for individuals to apply topically (vaginally or rectally) to reduce their risk of HIV and possibly other sexually transmitted infections.
Updated: March 2012
Oral Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) aims to prevent acquisition of HIV through use of antiretroviral (ARV) agents before potential exposure to HIV. Several trials of daily oral PrEP have been completed, and other trials of daily and intermittent use of oral PrEP and injectable agents are underway. The primary strategy being tested involves daily use of one (tenofovir [TDF]) or two (TDF/emtricitabine [FTC]) oral ARV drugs.
Updated April 2012
Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
Antiretroviral post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)—short-term antiretroviral therapy initiated soon after known or suspected exposure to HIV—aims to prevent the establishment of HIV infection in an exposed person.
Updated November 2010
Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT)
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT; also known as prevention of vertical transmission) refers to interventions to prevent transmission of HIV from a mother living with HIV to her infant during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or following childbirth during breastfeeding.
Updated: October 2010
Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision
Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is the surgical complete removal of the foreskin of the penis. While conducted for a number of reasons, evidence from recent clinical trials has shown that medical male circumcision can significantly reduce (but not eliminate) men’s risk of acquiring HIV through heterosexual vaginal sex. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports VMMC performed by qualified and well-equipped professionals, and with the client’s informed consent.
Updated December 2011