HIV prevention

There are a range of strategies that people can use to reduce or eliminate the risk of HIV transmission.

Safe sex strategies and safe drug use have been the cornerstone for Australia’s successful community-led response to HIV for the past 30 years.

In recent years, these approaches have been complemented by new biomedical approaches, including post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) – a 28 day course of antiretroviral administered after an incident of suspected HIV exposure; and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – the use of antiretroviral medication by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.

The use of antiretrovirals by people with HIV has also been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of onward transmission of the virus (known as ‘treatment as prevention’).

Mother to child transmission is now rare in Australia, due to careful antenatal monitoring, treatment with antiretrovirals, and postnatal care and support.

Male circumcision, which has been found to be effective in lowering the rate of HIV transmission among heterosexuals in Africa, is not considered a relevant HIV prevention tool in Australia.

Universal infection control procedures minimise the risk of HIV transmission in healthcare settings and where piercing and tattooing is performed,

Due to screening, the Australian blood supply is regarded as safe.

See also:

Reporting on HIV prevention

Peer education: a key health promotion principle