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Other HIV Prevention Strategies?

October 22, 2012

There is increasing evidence that methadone therapy reduces the risk of acquiring HIV and other blood-borne viruses in people who use injection drugs. The authors of a recent metastudy published in the British journal BMJ speculate that reduced frequency of injecting with shared needles and simply being in care for addiction both play a part in lowering risk. As The New York Times noted, the study results have obvious public policy implications for Eastern European and Central Asian countries, with growing, heroin-driven HIV epidemics, that outlaw opiate substitution programs.

A study to be published in November's American Journal of Preventive Medicine (issue not yet available online) finds that social media campaigns using Facebook and similar platforms can contribute to reduced incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among adolescents and young adults. Effectiveness may decline over time. Social media may become a valuable tool in the longer term, however, for providing reliable sexual health information to young people who have been denied meaningful sex education at home and at school.

A study among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transwomen in Peru, published online in PLoS, finds that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a cost-effective HIV transmission prevention tool when concentrated in the 5 to 10% of the population at highest risk for acquiring HIV. In this country, the 5 to 10% at highest risk would include people doing sex work for survival and young gay men in pockets of already very high HIV prevalence.

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