Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Era of HIV prevention needed.

HIV prevention has had two previous "eras" of prevention. When HIV/AIDS first broke, the primary message was "don’t get HIV or you’ll die." This era was before the time of effective medication (pre-1996). Once the field discovered some basic medications, the second era of HIV started where prevention attempts had an implicit assumption that we would be able to eradicate the spread of HIV.

However, today we need a third era of HIV prevention and I honestly don’t have the answer on what the new era should look like. We need an approach that affirms the importance of HIV prevention without using fear as the primary motivator. We also need to acknowledge the reality that HIV is no longer considered a deadly illness but is now a chronic illness. Don’t get me wrong; HIV is extremely serious, but, we might be able to learn from other prevention programs, smoking for example, in developing better HIV prevention.

We also need to see risky sexual behaviors as a symptom rather than the problem. Co-occurring problems such as drug and alcohol use, mental health concerns, sexual compulsivity, and poverty are but a few of the related issues that need to be addressed in prevention.

Please don’t start a flame-war by attacking other respondents, but I’d like to hear from you.
How do you think our community should move forward?

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