African Journal of AIDS Research

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Combination HIV prevention options for young women in Africa

Cheryl Baxter, Salim Abdool Karim


Although the number of new HIV infections has declined by over 30% in the past decade, the number of people who acquire HIV each year remains unacceptably high. In 2014 the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that there were about 2 million new HIV infections. The virus continues to spread, particularly in key populations, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, sex workers and people who inject drugs. In Africa, young women have the highest HIV incidence rates. Scaling up known efficacious HIV prevention strategies for these groups at high risk is therefore a high priority. HIV prevention has generally been targeted at HIV-negative individuals or in some instances, entire communities. Prevention efforts are, however, shifting from a narrow focus on HIV-uninfected persons to a continuum of prevention that includes both HIV-negative and HIV-positive individuals. Given that a single HIV prevention intervention is unlikely to be able to alter the epidemic trajectory as HIV epidemics in communities are complex and comprise a mosaic of different risk factors and different routes of transmission, there is need to provide combination prevention. Hence, a mix of behavioural, biomedical and structural HIV prevention options is likely to be needed to alter the course of the HIV epidemic. The combination of HIV prevention interventions needed will vary depending on cultural context, the population targeted and the stage of the epidemic. This paper reviews the available HIV prevention strategies for young women and discusses new HIV prevention approaches in development.

Keywords: PrEP, treatment as prevention, condoms, young women
AJOL African Journals Online