Feature story

UNAIDS releases 'Practical Guidelines for Intensifying HIV Prevention'

06 March 2007

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Photo credit:UNAIDS/K.Hesse

UNAIDS has released Practical Guidelines for Intensifying HIV Prevention:Towards Universal Access to assist policy makers and planners in countries to strengthen their national HIV prevention response.

The development of the Guidelines recognises that universal access is not only about sustaining and increasing access to antiretroviral treatment for those in need, but also to ensure that all people, particularly those most vulnerable to HIV, are able to prevent HIV infection so as to bring about a decrease in the number of new HIV infections — estimated at 4.3 (3.6–6.6) million in 2006.

The Guidelines call on National AIDS Authorities – in the Spirit of the Three Ones Principles - to provide leadership in coordinating and strengthening their national HIV prevention efforts. To strengthen national efforts countries are being encouraged to ‘know your epidemic’ by identifying the behaviours and social conditions that are most associated with HIV transmission, that undermine the ability of those most vulnerable to HIV infection to access and use HIV information and services. Knowing your epidemic provides the basis for countries to ‘know your response’, by recognizing the organizations and communities that are, or could be, contributing to the response, and by critically assessing the extent to which the existing response is meeting the needs of those most vulnerable to HIV infection.

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Photo credit:UNAIDS/G.Pirozzi

Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that, “We encourage countries to know their epidemic because we have learned over the last twenty-five years that the epidemic keeps evolving. It is important for countries to take stock of where, among whom and why new HIV infections are occurring. Understanding this enables countries to review, plan, match and prioritise their national responses to meet these needs”.

UNAIDS  categorizes HIV epidemics scenarios as low level, concentrated or generalized. For planning purposes the Guidelines propose an additional scenario—the hyperendemic scenario. The hyperendemic scenariorefers to those areas, such as the high prevalence countries of southern Africa, where HIV is circulating in the general population through sexual networking – especially heterosexual multiple concurrent partner relations with low and inconsistent condom use -- and prevalence exceeds 15% in the adult population. Within countries and regions different scenarios may exist and the epidemic may evolve from one scenario to another depending on the response, the underlying dynamics and drivers of the epidemic.

To help countries prioritise their response, the Guidelines provide a synthesis of essential and proven prevention measures that countries can use to “tailor your prevention plans” in relation to the epidemic scenarios and to meet the needs of the populations with highest rates and highest risks of HIV.

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Photo credit:UNAIDS/L.Gubb

Matching and prioritizing national response requires that countries set ambitious, realistic and measurable prevention targets in relation to their epidemic. This includes setting goals, and defining outcomes, outputs and processes for HIV prevention services to be delivered to the people and places where they are most needed. The Guidelines stress the need to constantly use strategic information, such as behavioural surveys, to measure and track whether they are achieving their objectives.

Dr Purnima Mane, Director, Policy, Evidence and Partnerships says that, “The fundamental intention underlying these guidelines is for countries to engage their leaders and communities to know their epidemics and to match the prevention response to meet their priority needs. Ensuring adequate coverage of most at risk and most vulnerable populations is essential to achieving Millennium Development Goal 6; and so too is urgent action to combat the drivers of the epidemic such as HIV related stigma, human rights violations, and gender inequality”.

The UNAIDS Practical Guidelines for Intensifying HIV Prevention: Towards Universal Access have been developed in consultation with the UNAIDS cosponsors, international collaborating partners, government, civil society leaders and other experts. They build on Intensifying HIV Prevention: UNAIDS Policy Position Paper and the UNAIDS Action Plan on Intensifying HIV Prevention.




Links:

Practical Guidelines for Intensifying HIV Prevention: Towards Universal Access (pdf, 3.87MB)
Intensifying HIV Prevention: UNAIDS Policy Position Paper (pdf, 3.80MB)
More information on Uniting for HIV Prevention

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