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HIV/AIDS - Prevention Efforts
For more information, visit the CDC's HIV/AIDS Branch
Sustained, comprehensive prevention efforts begun in the 1980s have had
a substantial impact on slowing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our country. While it
is difficult to measure prevention - or how many thousands of infections did
not occur as a result of efforts to date - we know the epidemic was growing at
rate of over 80% each year in the mid-1980s and has now stabilized. While
the occurrence of approximately 40,000 new infections annually is deeply
troubling, we have made tremendous progress. We also have more scientific
evidence than ever before on which prevention programs are most effective. There
is no question that prevention works and remains the best and most
cost-effective approach for bringing the HIV/AIDS epidemic under control and
HIV prevention programs have been proven effective.
Comprehensive HIV prevention programs work best .
The many dimensions of prevention provide multiple opportunities
Primary HIV prevention means keeping people from becoming infected
with HIV in the first place. Interventions must focus not only on uninfected
populations - there also is a major role for preventing further infections by
focusing on infected individuals and helping them develop skills for reducing
the risk of infecting others.
Secondary HIV prevention means keeping people who already are
HIV-infected safe and healthy by helping them avoid opportunistic infections and
stopping the infection from progressing to AIDS.
In all prevention efforts, there is a growing need to address the link
between HIV treatment and prevention. In some cases, such as preventing
perinatal transmission to infants by providing antiretroviral drugs to the
mother, treatment is prevention. We also know that the treatment of other
STDs can greatly reduce a person's risk for sexually acquired HIV infection.
And, scientists even now are exploring the possibility that combination drug
therapies may reduce infectivity. With the lines between prevention and
treatment beginning to fade, ongoing services for people who are HIV positive
must balance medical advances with the behavioral and social support needed to
preserve their quality of life and prevent the spread of
Today, more than ever, we must recognize that medical advances do not
negate the need for preventing disease-in fact, the availability of newer and
better treatments often increases the need for prevention. How well
we continue our work to develop integrated approaches to prevention and
treatment may well define the future course of the HIV pandemic.