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A comprehensive approach to HIV prevention balances structural changes (such as poverty reduction and gender equality), the expansion and strengthening of existing and emerging prevention strategies (such as behavioural interventions, the distribution of male and female condoms, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment-as-prevention (TasP), and targeted investments in research of new prevention options (such as vaccines and microbicides).

Research into new prevention options is a critical part of comprehensive HIV prevention. New prevention options are needed for those who cannot use or rely on existing prevention methods such as condoms.

ICAD aims to raise awareness and understanding of research into new prevention options among Canadians, and to promote a Canadian policy environment that is supportive of HIV prevention research. ICAD maintains a partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and is working to ensure that Canada plays a significant role in the global HIV prevention research efforts, and that Canadians can benefit from any new prevention option that is found to be safe and effective.


Treatment as Prevention (TasP)

Treatment as prevention (TasP) is a term that describes the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), used to treat HIV, as a method to reduce transmission. ARVs work to decrease the amount of HIV virus in the body (viral load), studies have shown that a lower viral load reduces the risk of passing HIV to sexual partners. See Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for the use of ARVs to prevent HIV infection. For more information see AVAC’s fact sheet on Treatment as Prevention.

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Microbicides are potential substances that are currently being developed for possible use during anal or vaginal intercourse to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Microbicides could come in many forms such as suppositories, creams, slow release vaginal rings or gels that could be used rectally or vaginally. There are no microbial substances approved for the prevention of HIV at this time. For more information see AVAC’s factsheet on Microbicides.

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Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is a prevention strategy that uses antiretroviral (ARV) medications, approved for HIV treatment, to help the body develop a resistance to HIV. The presence of ARVs within the body prevents the virus from establishing within the body. This method is particularly effective for individuals with a prolonged exposure to HIV such as serodiscordant couples, injection drug users, sex workers and partners of individuals in high-risk populations. Check out AVAC’s factsheet for more information on PrEP.

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Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

Post Exposure Prohphylaxis uses a four week course of anti-retroviral treatment to prevent sero-conversion after exposure by preventing the virus from establishing within the body. This method is often used in emergency situations such as occupational exposure (needle stick injuries), in the event of rape, people exposed through consensual sexual conduct or for individuals exposed through un-sterile needle use. The effectiveness of this particular intervention is time sensitive as it is most effective if taken within the first 72 hours of exposure, and is not 100% effective. AVERT has produced a highly informative fact sheet for more detailed information.

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AIDS Vaccines

Vaccines teach the immune system how to fight off a virus (like HIV) to reduce the risk of infection or as a strategy to reduce the viral load of people living with HIV. Vaccines are strong tools for public health and have provided the means to reduce the incidence of diseases such as small pox, polio, measles, and rubella. While there is no vaccine for HIV today much research is being done in an attempt to find one. Please see IAVI’s factsheet on vaccines for more information.

Key Resources and Organizations

New Prevention Reports

  • International AIDS Vaccine Initiative Report (IAVI): The IAVI Report provides editorially independent, comprehensive coverage of the AIDS vaccine field from the latest scientific research to policy, advocacy and community perspectives, bringing news and analysis, adding context and underscoring trends and gaps in the search for and AIDS Vaccine. (Quarterly)
  • Vax: an editorially independent publication is intended for a broad audience, ranging from policymakers and community leaders to advocates and vaccine trial volunteers. Each issue features a collection of articles written in an easily-accessible style allowing non-technical readers to understand the latest developments in the science and policy of AIDS vaccine research. (Bi-monthly)
  • Px Wire: covers the latest in the field of biomedical HIV prevention research, implementation and advocacy. Each issue includes news, emerging issues and features upcoming events. (Quarterly)
  • P-Values: bulletin highlighting advocacy work by our partners and many other stakeholders around the world. “P-value” is a statistical term for the probability that a trial result is a real finding and not the result of chance. As the world faces new challenges and opportunities in prevention research, the global advocacy community isn’t leaving anything to chance. P-Values tracks work on country- and community-level engagement in trials, preparing for results and implementation of new findings. (Quarterly)
  • Prevention In Focus: CATIE’s spotlight on HIV and hepatitis C programs and research.

Key Organizations working on New Prevention Technologies

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