Comprehensive HIV Prevention: Condoms and Contraceptives Count

The AIDS epidemic has now spanned nearly three decades. In 2007, 2.5 million people became newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of people living with HIV or AIDS to 33 million. Recent evidence shows that national HIV prevalence is stabilizing or showing signs of decline in most of sub-Saharan Africa and in some Southeast Asian countries, yet AIDS remains the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, and generalized epidemics persist.

The lessons of the past decades have taught us that there is no silver bullet to HIV prevention, although there is increasing evidence of what works, and replicable models exist. While male condoms are generally accepted as a cornerstone of comprehensive HIV prevention, expanded access and use of this proven technology is still facing enormous cultural and policy barriers, and much more needs to be done to increase the supply and use of female condoms. Despite 2.5 million new HIV infections occurring every year, overall donor support for condoms in developing countries has remained largely unchanged over the past few years. Similarly, despite a growing demand for modern contraception, including condoms, donor support for contraceptives has increased only minimally, and remains far below the projected need.

Effective comprehensive prevention strategies must include a range and mix of evidence-based interventions tailored to the needs of various people and their social contexts.With this report, Comprehensive HIV Prevention: Condoms and Contraceptives Count, Population Action International (PAI) presents evidence that scaling-up HIV prevention – which is critical to stem new HIV infections—will require much broader access to and use of these proven technologies—namely male and female condoms to prevent primary infection, and contraceptives to prevent mother-to-child transmission by preventing unintended pregnancies.