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HIV prevention reduces or removes risk of HIV transmission
HIV prevention is using a number of methods to reduce or eliminate the risk of HIV being passed from one person to another (transmission). HIV transmission is when the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is passed from one person to another.
Emergency prevention - PEP
Emergency treatment to prevent HIV infection, known as Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), is possible and available in many countries around the world for people who have been exposed to HIV.
HIV Prevention methods
HIV can be transmitted in three main ways:
- Sexual transmission
- Transmission through blood
- Mother-to-child transmission
Universal HIV prevention methods try to address the three main routes of transmission listed above. HIV testing and counselling as well as HIV awareness education are central to preventing HIV transmission.
Prevention methods for sexual transmission of HIV include condom use, male circumcision, safer sex education and treatment as prevention, among others.
Transmission through blood occurs when contact is made with HIV infected blood. Preventing transmission through blood includes screening blood products and reducing needle sharing and accidents.
Treatment as prevention
Treatment as prevention has been used successfully by doctors to prevent mothers from passing HIV to their babies. Mother-to-child transmission prevention involves the screening and treatment of pregnant women and their new-born babies.
Increasingly, treatment is being used to prevent HIV transmission. Good adherence to antiretroviral treatment can lower a person’s viral load and reduces the risk of onward HIV transmission. HIV treatment known as pre-exposure prophylaxis is also used by people who may be exposed to HIV, for example, discordant couples.
Overall, HIV prevention programmes should be comprehensive, making use of all approaches known to be effective rather than just implementing one or a few.