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Biomedical prevention

Biomedical interventions are potentially an important part of a combination HIV prevention package, however evidence for the efficacy of different strategies is mixed.

These pages describe some of the latest research findings and explore some of the issues raised by biomedical prevention.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP - a number of clinical trials have shown that HIV negative people can use antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.

The use of ARVs by people living with HIV has been demonstrated to dramatically reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.

Microbicides could give women more control over HIV prevention, and offer both men and women who engage in anal sex an additional prevention strategy, but trial results have so far been disappointing. Trials of vaginal rings impregnated with microbicides are still in early stages.

A vaccine to prevent HIV transmission could have a big impact on the global HIV epidemic; however trials have still not identified a highly effective vaccine.

Male circumcision can significantly reduce the rate of HIV transmission in heterosexual men and may offer a small protective benefit for gay men. This strategy is not considered relevant in developed countries such as Australia.

This page was published on 12 January, 2011

This page was reviewed on 20 October 2015