Reporting on HIV prevention

HIV prevention in Australia has been transformed in recent years by new scientific evidence for the efficacy of biomedical prevention strategies. These new strategies are:

  • Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) –  use of antiretrovirals after an suspected HIV exposure to prevent infection
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – the use of antiretroviral medication by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV
  • Treatment as prevention – people with HIV who are on effective treatment are less likely to infect their partners.

Journalists reporting on HIV should be familiar with this suite of emerging biomedical approaches to address HIV epidemics, which form an important part of what is known as ‘combination prevention’.

See also:

HIV prevention 

Reporting on PrEP 


Avoid misunderstandings about HIV transmission

To report effectively on HIV prevention strategies, it is crucial to bear in mind common misunderstandings about HIV transmission. Common misunderstandings regarding HIV transmission relate to casual social contacts with HIV-positive people.

Such misunderstandings can cloud public perceptions of HIV and risk, feed unfounded fears and contribute to HIV-related stigma experienced by people with HIV, the gay community, people who use drugs and sex workers.

In reporting stories regarding supposed exposure of members to the public to the risk of contracting HIV, there may be a need to clarify that HIV cannot be transmitted via day-to-day contact in social settings, schools or in the workplace – for example by shaking hands or hugging; using the same toilet; drinking from the same glass; playing sports with an HIV positive person; or by being exposed to a person with HIV who is coughing or sneezing.

See also:

The facts about HIV 

HIV exposure risk in the community