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Switch On Your HIV Smarts.

New Resource: Mapping Pathways U.S. Workshop Report

, by Reilly O'Neal

HIV prevention strategies based on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)—including PrEP and treatment as prevention, as well as microbicide products in development—are potent new tools for protecting individuals from infection and curbing the HIV epidemic. But these strategies can only fulfill their promise if people understand them, want to use them, and have access to them.

MappingPathwaysCoverTo help chart the way forward for implementing these tools, AIDS Foundation of Chicago and RAND Europe this week published Mapping Pathways: Community-Driven Strategies for the Use of Antiretrovirals as Prevention. The report builds on the Mapping Pathways team’s multinational work by presenting findings from three “knowledge exchange” workshops held in 2013 in San Francisco, Atlanta, and Washington, DC, all designed to “collaboratively develop a range of future scenarios and potential strategies for implementing ARV-based prevention in the United States.”

“While the scientific evidence base for HIV prevention strategies utilizing ARV drugs continues to grow stronger, we must not forget the importance of community members and key stakeholders, whose perspectives, experiences, and collective wisdom are as essential to progress as statistically significant trial results,” the report explains.

The strategies and scenarios envisioned by workshop participants in these three cities not only consider the policy, advocacy, and structural changes needed, but also acknowledge that any “biomedical” HIV prevention method depends on human behavior: People take (or don’t take) pills for PrEP, use a microbicide-containing lube (or skip it), or adhere to their HIV treatment regimen (or don’t) in a social environment that can enable or hinder their choices and against the backdrop of competing priorities and demands on their time.

With these realities in mind, how do we map the path forward for getting the most from these powerful HIV prevention options? Download the report and get answers from public health experts, advocates, researchers, and other stakeholders: Mapping Pathways: Community-Driven Strategies for the Use of Antiretrovirals as Prevention is available online, and you can learn more about the Mapping Pathways project here.

Reilly O’Neal is a freelance writer and former editor of BETA.

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