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Show full transcript for HIV Prevention and Treatment video

In this lesson, you'll learn about HIV preventive techniques, regardless of your individual circumstances, and the HIV treatment options that are currently available. And you'll learn a little about how those infected with the disease can still live long and healthy lives.

Firstly, all individuals can reduce their risk of HIV infection by making better choices and limiting their exposure simply by using a few prevention techniques.

Prevention Techniques

Using Condoms

For many, this means correct and consistent use of male and female condoms during vaginal and/or anal penetration, which can protect against the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Evidence shows that male latex condoms have an 85 percent or greater protective effect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Testing and counseling for HIV and STIs is vitally important. It is strongly advised for people who have exposure to any of the risk factors. It's also strongly advised that people learn about their infection status (as in getting tested) and access prevention services without delay.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends testing for partners and couples. They also recommend assisted partner notification approaches for those who have been confirmed to be HIV positive. This helps people with HIV receive support to inform their partners on their own or with the help of a healthcare provider.

Tuberculosis Screening

Tuberculosis (TB) is the most common presenting illness for people infected with HIV and is also the leading cause of death at around 37 percent. TB is fatal if it goes undetected and untreated. Therefore, early detection and prompt treatment can help prevent those deaths.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Chronic cough
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue

Pro Tip #1: HIV testing and TB screening is routinely offered at HIV care centers. For anyone who suspects either, they should get tested immediately.

If diagnosed, individuals with HIV and active TB should urgently begin effective TB treatment, including for multidrug resistant TB and ART. For individuals with HIV but not active TB, it's wise to pursue TB preventative therapy.

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC)

VMMC reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent.

VMMC is a key preventative technique that's supported in 15 countries in African with rates of HIV infection and low circumcision rates. This type of prevention is regarded as a good approach to reach men and adolescent boys who don't often seek healthcare services.

Antiretroviral (ART) for Prevention

Using ARTs, the risk of transmitting the HIV virus to an uninfected partner can be reduced by as much as 96 percent. The WHO recommends the initiation of ART in all people living with HIV, as it can significantly reduce HIV transmission.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP is an oral prevention technique that involves the daily use of ARV drugs by HIV-negative people to block the acquisition of HIV.

The WHO recommends PrEP as a preventative measure for all people who have a higher than normal risk of HIV infection as part of a combination of preventative approaches. The WHO also expanded their recommendation to include HIV-negative women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

PEP involves the use of ARV drugs within 72 hours of exposure to the HIV virus. PEP also includes counseling, first aid care, HIV testing, and the administration of a 28-day course of ARV drugs with follow up care.

The WHO recommends PEP use for both occupational and non-occupational exposures and for both adults and children.

Harm Reduction Measures for Drug Users

People who inject drugs should take precautions against becoming infected with HIV. These precautions include:

  • Using sterile injecting equipment like needles and syringes
  • Not sharing drug-using equipment and drug solutions
  • Treatment of opioid dependence, particularly opioid substitution therapy
  • HIV testing and counseling
  • HIV treatment and care
  • Risk-reduction education and the provision of naloxone
  • Access to free condoms
  • The management of STIs, TB, and viral hepatitis

Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (EMTCT)

The transmission of HIV from HIV-positive mothers to their babies during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or while breast feeding is called mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).

In the absence of any interventions during these stages, the rates of HIV transmission from mother to child is between 15 to 45 percent. MTCT can be nearly prevented if both mother and baby are provided with ARV drugs as early in the pregnancy as possible and also during breast feeding.

HIV Treatment

HIV treatment involves taking medications that slow the progression of the virus in the body. HIV-type of viruses are called retroviruses, and drugs that are used to treat them are called antiretrovirals (ARVs).

These drugs are always given in combination with other ARVs. This combination approach is what's known as antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Although there is no cure for HIV, ART can help keep HIV-infected people healthy for many years and greatly reduce the chances of transmitting HIV to their partners if they are taken correctly and consistently.

ART reduces the amount of the virus in the blood (viral load) and body fluids. ART is recommended for all people living with HIV regardless of how long they've had the virus or how healthy they appear and feel.

HIV treatment is most successful when those infected know what to expect and are committed to taking their medications exactly as they are prescribed. Working with a healthcare provider on a treatment plan can help those infected manage the disease more effectively.