HIV in Canada: A primer for service providers

Biomedical Prevention Interventions

Key Points

  • Biomedical prevention interventions aim to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by reducing the risk that an exposure to HIV happens or by reducing the risk after an exposure occurs.

Biomedical prevention interventions include the use of condoms, the use of vaccines, the use of microbicides, penile circumcision, treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the use of antiretroviral drugs by HIV-negative people (post-exposure prophylaxis and pre-exposure prophylaxis) and HIV-positive people (effective treatment to prevent transmission).

Biomedical prevention interventions aim to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by either reducing the risk that an exposure to HIV happens or by reducing the risk associated with after an exposure occurs.

Some biomedical prevention interventions are considered highly effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission. These include:

  • The consistent and correct use of condoms
  • The consistent and correct use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) by people living with HIV to maintain an undetectable viral load
  • The consistent and correct use of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

Improved efforts are needed to raise awareness about these interventions and make them accessible to those who are at high risk for HIV. Other interventions are still under development and continued research is essential to expand the number of prevention interventions available to stop the spread of HIV.

To maximize their effectiveness, all biomedical prevention interventions should be combined with a comprehensive sexual health plan that includes regular STI testing and treatment, and ongoing counselling to support a variety of risk-reduction approaches and adherence to prevention strategies.

Resources

Prevention Technologies

CATIE statement on the use of condoms as a highly effective strategy to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV

CATIE statement on the use of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a highly effective strategy to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV

CATIE statement on the use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) to maintain an undetectable viral load as a highly effective strategy to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV

Source

Kippax S, Stephenson N. Beyond the distinction between biomedical and social dimensions of HIV prevention through the lens of a social public health. American Journal of Public Health. 2012 May;102(5):789–799.