REVIEW ARTICLE: Biomedical HIV Prevention Strategies: State of the Art and Implications for Public Health Policy in the Caribbean

Carmen D. Zorrilla, Silvia E. Rabionet, Ana M. Mosquera, Annette B. Ramírez de Arellano


Recent advances in the field of biomedical prevention have induced optimism among both the scientific community and the public in general. The discussion of the research evidence is complemented with a discussion of the implications of this evidence for the Caribbean, highlighting the issues and controversies that should be considered in order to encourage and advance the responsible consideration of biomedical strategies. Traditionally, HIV prevention strategies have been characterized as predominantly behavior, social or biomedical. In practice, however, some strategies defy classification: even when they rely on technological or pharmaceutical elements, they have to be adopted by a society and the individuals within it. Moreover, whatever the strategy used, it will have to be distributed, implemented and made available through health care systems or other means. And its cost will be absorbed by specific funders or by society in general. Given the current historical context of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic and the array of strategies required to control it, these distinctions (biomedical vs. behavior) can hinder the collaborations required to provide the needed combinations of strategies. The efficacy of the diverse strategies range from: 99% for programs to prevent MTCT, 63% for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), 96% for treatment as prevention, 39% for vaginal microbicides (54% with good adherence), post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), 31% for a vaccine and 53-60% for medical voluntary adult circumcision. To curtail and eliminate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the future, expansion and scaled-up implementation of combinations of such strategies will be needed.


HIV, HIV biomedical prevention, Caribbean HIV epidemic

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