Placing contraception at the centre of the HIV prevention agenda
Over the past decade, the global response to the HIV epidemic has been unprecedented, and enormous progress has been made. Significant investment in the roll out of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and efforts to increase treatment coverage have greatly reduced the number of AIDS-related deaths worldwide. There are a growing number of promising innovations to expand the HIV prevention mix. However, the reach of these interventions is still very limited in adolescent girls and young women (15–24 years) and the full realisation of the intervention mandates has not yet been achieved. The HIV prevention field has been criticised for the tendency to adopt a narrow focus. The Fast-Track Strategy offers a unique opportunity for the HIV prevention field to broaden its gaze and to begin to identify synergies (and efficiencies) with prevention approaches from other global development priorities, namely sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This paper applies a SRHR lens to HIV prevention by highlighting the critical relationship between unintended pregnancy and HIV, and seeks to expand on earlier debates that prevention of HIV and prevention of unintended pregnancy are inextricably linked, complementary activities with interrelated and common goals. We call for the prioritisation of prevention of unintended pregnancy amongst two overlapping population groups — girls and young women (15–24 years old) and women living with HIV — as a key tactic to accomplish the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/ AIDS (UNAIDS) Fast-Track Strategy and as a way to fully realise existing HIV prevention efforts. We discuss the intersecting pathways between HIV prevention and unintended pregnancy prevention and build a case for contraception to be placed at the centre of the HIV prevention agenda.
Keywords: contraceptive methods, dual protection, reproductive health, unintended pregnancy prevention