HIV prevention strategies include the use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as well as male circumcision.
They also include treatment for STIs and the use of combination methods.
For HIV prevention to be effective, these strategies must promote good adherence and monitoring of viral load.
However, these methods may not be enough to completely eradicate the risk of HIV infection.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a biomedical intervention that prevents HIV infection through the use of antiretroviral drugs.
This treatment is effective in both occupational and non-occupational settings.
It should be started within 72 hours of a possible HIV exposure.
The earlier the PEP therapy is begun, the better it will work.
Another HIV prevention strategy is called nPEP, or non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis.
The goal of nPEP is to prevent HIV infection after an individual is exposed to HIV through sexual activity or by sharing a needle with a person who has the virus.
It is important to note that the medications for nPEP must be taken within 72 hours after exposure.
While PrEP does not prevent HIV infection in all situations, it can greatly reduce the risk of getting the disease from sexual activity and injection drugs.
Properly taken, PrEP can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%.
However, PrEP will not protect against other sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhagia and syphilis.
If taken correctly, condoms are the best protection against STIs.
Male circumcision (MC) should be performed by trained practitioners, in sanitary settings, and only after informed consent is obtained.
Proper counseling and information should also be provided to men who undergo the procedure.
It should be promoted in a culturally appropriate manner.
MC should be integrated into a comprehensive HIV prevention package to reduce HIV transmission and promote safer sex practices.
Although male circumcision is an effective HIV prevention strategy, it is not enough to prevent HIV transmission.
It is critical to use all proven methods, such as testing, diagnosis, condom usage, behavioral change counseling, and the use of microbicides, among others, to make an impact on the HIV epidemic.
Male circumcision is the only HIV prevention strategy in Africa that has reached mass adoption.
In Kenya, the Ministry of Health launched a voluntary MC plan in November 2008, with an ambitious goal of achieving one million circumcisions by 2013.
Kenya has seen impressive results, with more than 90 000 men circumcised in Nyanza Province alone – the region with the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya.
The project has been supported by 650 healthcare providers and has received the support of local traditional leaders.
Treatment of STIs
Treatment of STIs is important to preventing HIV. It can prevent the spread of the disease by reducing the frequency of sexual interactions between individuals.
The treatment of STIs can be effective if it is carried out early.
However, it is important to note that STI treatment is not the only effective way to prevent HIV.
Early detection and treatment can also prevent the transmission of the disease to others.
While STIs are easily spread and transmitted by sexual contact, their symptoms can make them difficult to diagnose.
Consequently, many people are not aware that they have these infections.
Moreover, many STIs are asymptomatic. For this reason, it is essential to detect them early in order to prevent transmission of the infection.
In many developing countries, STIs are a public health concern due to the high rate of infection and the high socioeconomic impact.
Moreover, they can lead to serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and HIV.
In addition, STIs can have adverse pregnancy outcomes, including spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, or congenital infection.
Moreover, untreated STIs can facilitate HIV transmission.
Combination HIV prevention
Combination HIV prevention strategies involve the implementation of multiple interventions to reduce the risks of new HIV infections.
They incorporate biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions that address immediate risks and underlying causes of vulnerability.
Such approaches are often context-specific and aim to improve program design and effectiveness by ensuring each component is delivered at a high intensity, scale, and quality.
While considerable resources have been spent on HIV testing, over half of adults are uninformed of their status.
Men are also the least likely to participate in community-based mobile testing efforts and link to care at lower rates than women.
These male testing gaps represent a major challenge to the implementation of combination HIV prevention strategies.
Therefore, increasing HIV testing among men is a priority in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, it is important to note that this approach is only one component of effective prevention strategies.
Other strategies include abstinence, avoiding drug injections, and using clean syringes.
The best method of preventing HIV is abstinence, but SEPs can also help reduce risks by linking injection drug users to other services, such as HIV risk reduction counseling and substance abuse treatment.