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Special Communication |

HIV Prevention in Clinical Care Settings:  2014 Recommendations of the International Antiviral Society–USA Panel FREE

Jeanne M. Marrazzo, MD, MPH1; Carlos del Rio, MD2; David R. Holtgrave, PhD3; Myron S. Cohen, MD4; Seth C. Kalichman, PhD5; Kenneth H. Mayer, MD6; Julio S. G. Montaner, MD7; Darrell P. Wheeler, PhD, MPH8; Robert M. Grant, MD, MPH9; Beatriz Grinsztejn, MD, PhD10; N. Kumarasamy, MD, PhD11; Steven Shoptaw, PhD12; Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH13; Francois Dabis, MD, PhD14; Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH15; Constance A. Benson, MD16
[+] Author Affiliations
1University of Washington, Seattle
2Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
3The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
4University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
5University of Connecticut, Storrs
6Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
7University of British Columbia, Vancouver
8Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
9University of California San Francisco
10Evandro Chagas Clinical Research Institute (IPEC)–FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
11YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, Chennai, India
12University of California Los Angeles
13Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
14Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
15The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
16University of California San Diego
JAMA. 2014;312(4):390-409. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.7999.
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Published online

Importance  Emerging data warrant the integration of biomedical and behavioral recommendations for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention in clinical care settings.

Objective  To provide current recommendations for the prevention of HIV infection in adults and adolescents for integration in clinical care settings.

Data Sources, Study Selection, and Data Synthesis  Data published or presented as abstracts at scientific conferences (past 17 years) were systematically searched and reviewed by the International Antiviral (formerly AIDS) Society—USA HIV Prevention Recommendations Panel. Panel members supplied additional relevant publications, reviewed available data, and formed recommendations by full-panel consensus.

Results  Testing for HIV is recommended at least once for all adults and adolescents, with repeated testing for those at increased risk of acquiring HIV. Clinicians should be alert to the possibility of acute HIV infection and promptly pursue diagnostic testing if suspected. At diagnosis of HIV, all individuals should be linked to care for timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Support for adherence and retention in care, individualized risk assessment and counseling, assistance with partner notification, and periodic screening for common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is recommended for HIV-infected individuals as part of care. In HIV-uninfected patients, those persons at high risk of HIV infection should be prioritized for delivery of interventions such as preexposure prophylaxis and individualized counseling on risk reduction. Daily emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate is recommended as preexposure prophylaxis for persons at high risk for HIV based on background incidence or recent diagnosis of incident STIs, use of injection drugs or shared needles, or recent use of nonoccupational postexposure prophylaxis; ongoing use of preexposure prophylaxis should be guided by regular risk assessment. For persons who inject drugs, harm reduction services should be provided (needle and syringe exchange programs, supervised injection, and available medically assisted therapies, including opioid agonists and antagonists); low-threshold detoxification and drug cessation programs should be made available. Postexposure prophylaxis is recommended for all persons who have sustained a mucosal or parenteral exposure to HIV from a known infected source and should be initiated as soon as possible.

Conclusions and Relevance  Data support the integration of biomedical and behavioral approaches for prevention of HIV infection in clinical care settings. A concerted effort to implement combination strategies for HIV prevention is needed to realize the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

The availability of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) has changed the lives of millions of individuals living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), transforming HIV from a fatal infection to a manageable chronic disease. Incidence of new HIV-1 infections worldwide has decreased by an estimated 33% since 2001 but remains high at approximately 2.3 million new infections in 2012. In the United States, approximately 50 000 new infections occur each year—a number that has remained largely unchanged since the 1990s.1

The integration of biomedical and behavioral approaches to HIV prevention, coupled with ART for those infected, represents the cornerstone of efforts to curb the spread of HIV infection.2 In an effort to provide practicing clinicians, public health experts, and policy makers with a framework to implement the best HIV prevention interventions, the International Antiviral Society—USA (IAS—USA) Panel has developed recommendations that integrate biomedical and behavioral prevention in the care of people living with or at risk for HIV infection. These recommendations are intended as best practice based on available evidence. Implementing these recommendations may present structural, economic, or political challenges. However, benefits to be derived from their implementation should contribute substantially to preventing disease progression, promoting healthy life years gained, and preventing new HIV infections.

In formulating these recommendations, the panel intentionally avoided distinguishing between behavioral and biomedical interventions, choosing to emphasize that providing prevention in care—for people living with or at risk for HIV infection—requires a combination of activities.

A systematic literature review using Medline and EMBASE was conducted to identify relevant published data. Specific search terms and limits are detailed in the supplemental section on the process of recommendation development (eMethods in the Supplement). Approximately 250 related manuscripts were selected based on scientific evidence or major guidelines. Panel members also conducted hand searches for newly published reports and abstracts from scientific conferences throughout the process. Data not published or presented in a peer-reviewed setting were not considered.

Recommendations were developed by the International Antiviral Society–USA HIV Prevention Recommendations Panel, an international panel of experts in HIV biomedical and behavioral science and practice. The panel convened in person in March 2013 and met regularly by teleconference thereafter. Panel members serve in a volunteer (no financial compensation) capacity and do not participate in industry promotional activities such as speaker bureaus, industry-paid lectures, or other marketing activities during panel membership (details available in the eMethods in the Supplement). Teams evaluated evidence and summarized panel discussions for each section. Prior to convening, members declared and discussed potential conflicts of interest and recused themselves from serving as section leaders or team members accordingly. A description of the panel process is included in the eMethods in the Supplement.

Panel recommendations were limited to HIV prevention for clinical care settings for nonpregnant adults and adolescents. Recommendations for prevention included ART that was available (approved by regulatory bodies or in expanded access [compassionate use]) or in late-stage development (new drug application filed). Recommendations were made by full-panel consensus and rated according to strength of the recommendation and quality of supporting data (Table 1 and Box 1).4 Ratings were provided only for recommendations supported by clinical or observational study data. The panel developed these recommendations regardless of clinical setting; thus, they are relevant to the global community. However, most of the cost-effectiveness literature cited is specific to the United States and other well-resourced settings, such as Canada, Western Europe, and Australia. To the extent that resource utilization, care structures, and ART costs vary widely across different settings, the economic discussions should be interpreted accordingly.

Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 1.  Strength of Recommendation and Quality of Evidence Rating Scalea

Box Section Ref ID

Box 1.
Recommendations for Integrated Biomedical and Behavioral Approaches to HIV Prevention
A. HIV Testing and Knowledge of Serostatus
  • All adults and adolescents should be offered HIV testing at least once. Rating: AIII

    • To direct the need for additional testing, clinicians should periodically assess HIV-related risks, including sexual and drug-use activities, in all adults and adolescents.

    • Persons at higher risk (those engaging in risk behaviors or residing in areas of or testing at venues with high seroprevalence) should be tested more frequently, at intervals appropriate to the individual’s situation.

  • All persons should be informed prior to undergoing HIV testing; however, pretest counseling should be sufficient only to meet the individual’s needs and to comply with local regulations. The right to refuse testing must be honored, but clinicians should ensure that refusals are informed decisions. Rating: AIII

  • As the circumstances warrant and depending on the test used, at-risk persons who test HIV-seronegative should receive information about the possibility of a false-negative test result during the window period prior to appearance of detectable antibody and should be encouraged to obtain repeat testing at an appropriate time. Rating: AIIa

  • Approach to testing

    • Tests with the best performance (sensitivity/specificity) should be used. Rating: AIIa

    • Rapid testing should be prioritized for persons less likely to return for their results. Rating: AIIa

    • Couples testing should be accommodated and encouraged. Rating: AIa

    • Self-testing and home testing should be considered for those who have recurrent risk, difficulties with testing in clinical settings, or both. Rating: BIII

B. Prevention Measures Specific to HIV-Infected Individuals
Antiretroviral Therapy
  • Clinicians should provide education about the personal health benefits of ART and the public benefits of prevention of transmission and should assess patients’ readiness to initiate and adhere to long-term ART. Rating: AIII

  • ART should be offered on detection of HIV infection. Rating: A1a

  • Strategies for adherence support should be implemented and tailored to individual patient needs or the setting. Rating: AIa

  • Clinicians should be alert to the nonspecific presentation of acute HIV infection and urgently pursue specific diagnostic testing (plasma HIV viral load) if this is suspected. Rating: AIIa

Counseling on Risk Reduction, Disclosure of HIV Serostatus, and Partner Notification
  • Regular assessment of sexual and substance use practices should be performed in HIV-infected persons to direct individualized risk-reduction counseling, which should be delivered in combination with screening for sexually transmitted infection, condom provision, and harm reduction services (discussed below) for people who inject drugs, and integrated with strategies to maintain adherence. Rating: AIII

  • Assistance should be provided for patient- or clinician-based notification of sex and injection drug use partners to facilitate the patient’s testing and linkage to care as well as efforts to disclose HIV infection to relevant partners and other key persons. Rating: AIII

Needle Exchange and Other Harm-Reduction Interventions Among People Who Inject Drugs
  • Simultaneous access to ART, needle and syringe exchange programs, supervised injection sites, medicalized heroin, and medically assisted therapy (which includes opioid-substitution therapy) should be provided to HIV-infected people who inject drugs. Rating: AIa for each element; AIII for the combination

  • For individuals who use substances in ways other than injection, ART with adherence support and behavioral counseling should be provided. Rating: AIIa

C. Individual-and Structural-Level Interventions to Promote Movement of HIV-Infected Persons Through the Continuum of HIV Care: Additional Considerations
  • Linkage to HIV care for HIV-infected individuals is an essential component of expanded HIV testing and should be actively facilitated as soon as possible following a new diagnosis of HIV. Rating: AIa

  • Strengths-based case management interventions in which patients identify and use personal strengths should be used to facilitate linkage to and retention in HIV care (examples available at http://effectiveinterventions.org/en/HighImpactPrevention/PublicHealthStrategies/ARTAS.aspx). Rating: AIa

  • Additional patient support services are recommended, including patient health navigation, community and peer outreach, provision of culturally appropriate print media, verbal messages promoting health care utilization and retention from clinic staff, and youth-focused case management and support. Rating: AIIa

D. Prevention Measures Aimed at HIV-Uninfected Individuals
Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction for HIV Infection
  • A specific risk assessment covering recent months should be conducted to determine the sexual and substance use practices that should be the focus of risk reduction counseling and appropriate risk reduction services should be offered. Rating: AIa

  • For people at high risk for HIV infection who test HIV-seronegative, risk-reduction interventions or services are warranted, especially for individuals and couples who seek repeat HIV testing to monitor seroconversion. Rating AIa

Preexposure Prophylaxis
  • Daily FTC/TDF as preexposure prophylaxis should be offered to

    • Persons at high risk for HIV based on background incidence (>2%) or recent diagnosis of incident sexually transmitted infections, especially syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. Rating: AIa

    • Individuals who have used postexposure prophylaxis more than twice in the past year. Rating: AIIa

    • People who inject drugs and who share injection equipment, inject 1 or more times a day, or inject cocaine or methamphetamines. Rating: AIa

  • Preexposure prophylaxis should be part of an integrated risk-reduction strategy, so its use may become unnecessary if a person’s behavior changed. Thus, clinicians should regularly assess their patients’ risk and consider discontinuing preexposure prophylaxis if the sexual and partnering practices or injection drug use behaviors that involved exposure to HIV change. Rating: AIII

  • HIV-infected persons should be asked about the HIV serostatus of their sexual partners, and preexposure prophylaxis should be discussed if they have regular contact with HIV-uninfected partners. Partners whose HIV serostatus is unknown should undergo counseling and testing. Considerations should include whether the infected partner’s viral load is suppressed on ART, access to care for the uninfected partner, and coverage of associated costs. Rating: AIIb

  • HIV testing should be performed before starting preexposure prophylaxis, ideally with a sensitive, combination antigen-antibody assay capable of detecting acute or early infection (a fourth-generation assay), and regularly (monthly to quarterly depending on individual risk) thereafter. Screening for clinical symptoms that may signal acute infection should be performed. In suspected cases of acute HIV infection, plasma HIV viral load should be determined immediately and preexposure prophylaxis should be deferred until acute infection is ruled out. Rating: AIa

  • Persons to be given TDF-based preexposure prophylaxis should have a creatinine clearance rate of at least 60 mL/min. Data are not available to inform a recommendation for preexposure prophylaxis for persons with a creatinine clearance rate of less than 60 mL/min. Rating: AIa

  • Immunity to hepatitis B virus should be ensured for all persons initiating TDF-based preexposure prophylaxis. Rating AIIa

Postexposure Prophylaxis
  • Postexposure prophylaxis should be offered to all persons who have sustained a mucosal or parenteral exposure to HIV from a known infected source as urgently as possible and, at most, within 72 hours after exposure. Rating: AIIb

  • The postexposure prophylaxis regimen should consist of the US Public Health Service–preferred regimen, which is currently FTC/TDF and raltegravir. Rating: BIIb

  • Women who receive postexposure prophylaxis should be offered emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. Rating: BIIb

  • Persons who receive postexposure prophylaxis should be rescreened with a fourth-generation HIV antigen and antibody test 3 months after completion of the regimen. Rating: BIIb

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision should be recommended to sexually active heterosexual males for the purpose of HIV prevention, especially in areas with high background HIV prevalence. Rating: AIa

  • Voluntary medical male circumcision should be discussed with men who have sex with men and who engage in primarily insertive anal sex, particularly in settings of high HIV prevalence. Rating: BIIb

  • Parents and guardians should be informed of the preventive benefits of male infant circumcision.3 Rating: BIIb

E. Prevention Issues Relevant to All Persons With or at Risk for HIV-1 Infection
Screening and Treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Routine, periodic screening for common sexually transmitted infections at anatomical sites based on sexual history should be performed (Box 2). Rating: BIIa

  • HIV-infected persons should be tested for hepatitis C virus at entry to care and assessed at regular intervals for related risks, including higher-risk sexual practices. Rating: BIIa

  • Quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccination should be offered to all HIV-infected persons who fulfill the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices criteria for its administration. Rating: AIIa

  • Immunity to hepatitis B virus should be ensured for all HIV-infected persons in care who have not already been infected with hepatitis B virus. Rating AIIa

  • Routine screening for HSV-2 infection should be considered for HIV-infected persons who do not know their HSV-2 serostatus and wish to consider suppressive antiviral therapy to prevent transmission of HSV-2. Rating: CIa

Reproductive Health Care: Hormonal Contraception
  • Current data are not sufficiently conclusive to restrict use of any hormonal contraception method, and women using progestin-only injectable contraception should be advised to also always use condoms and other HIV-preventive measures as feasible. In the interim, HIV-infected women should be counseled with regard to the availability of a range of options for family planning, including hormonal contraception. Rating: BIIa

Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; FTC/TDF, emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate; HIV, human immunodeficiency virus; HSV-2, herpes simplex virus type 2.

Self-knowledge of HIV serostatus is the pivotal step in directing interventions to prevent HIV infection, enabling linkage of newly diagnosed persons to care as well as provision of prevention interventions to those found to be HIV-seronegative but at risk of infection. Despite the importance of this knowledge, approximately 50% of people living with HIV worldwide—and 16% of those in the United States—do not know their serostatus.5 Moreover, HIV-infected persons who are unaware of their serostatus may account for as much as 45% of new HIV infections in the United States.6 In addition, persons who receive a positive HIV test result often reduce their HIV-related risk behaviors.68

In 2006, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines recommending routine opt-out HIV testing in health care settings9; despite this, many missed opportunities for testing in clinical care continue to occur. In 2013, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended routine HIV screening for all persons aged 15 to 65 years.10 Both of these guidelines note that where prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection is 0.1% or less, routine screening may be supplanted by screening on the basis of risk assessment.

New developments such as HIV rapid tests, fourth-generation antibody and antigen assays (eTable in the Supplement),11 fewer legal barriers to testing, and integration of screening in diverse settings should facilitate increases in HIV testing and early diagnosis, timely receipt of results, and better linkage to care.12 Home- and community-based testing strategies, including self-testing, are especially important for populations with unmet health care needs.13 Fourth-generation assays allow clinicians to detect some acute and recent HIV infection, narrowing the window between infection and diagnosis to approximately 15 to 20 days, thus allowing diagnosis of persons who are often highly infectious.14 New diagnostic algorithms also omit the need for routine confirmatory Western blot testing.15The CDC Sexually Transmitted Disease Treatment Guidelines recommend that men who have sex with men (MSM) who have multiple or anonymous partners, have sex in conjunction with illicit drug use, use methamphetamine, or who have sex partners who participate in these activities be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV more frequently (every 3 to 6 months) than MSM without such risk factors.16

For couples who are or plan to be sexually active, HIV testing is an effective intervention for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.17,18 With couples HIV testing, participants receive testing and counseling together; individuals learn not only of their own HIV serostatus but also that of their partner(s), which facilitates the delivery of tailored prevention messages and care plans.

Counseling associated with HIV testing is a complex topic. In the United States, state laws vary as to what is required.19 At a minimum, individuals should know that they are being tested. Some studies have found that counseling conducted at the time of HIV testing serves to reduce HIV-related risk behaviors and subsequent STIs; however, some studies did not demonstrate these effects.2031 Counseling should not be an impediment to HIV testing. Indeed, current guidance from the CDC states that prevention counseling should not be required with HIV diagnostic testing or as part of HIV screening programs in health care settings.9 Last, the economic value of HIV screening is well substantiated and is enhanced when transmission prevention benefits associated with screening are included.3234

Brief risk assessment and brief clinically feasible risk reduction services may be considered for persons at high risk of HIV infection, including those with an incident STI, evidence of injection drug use, or who report sexual or drug using risk. In the sections below, we discuss these services both for persons living with HIV and for persons at increased risk for HIV infection (see Table 2 and 3).

Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 2.  Centers for Disease Control Best and Good Levels of Evidence for Prevention Interventions for Persons Living With HIV/AIDSa
Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 3.  Brief Behavioral Interventions for HIV-Uninfected Persons

For recommendations regarding HIV testing and knowledge of HIV status, see Box 1.

Antiretroviral Therapy

Suppression of infectious HIV-1 in blood and genital secretions through provision of ART is highly effective in reducing—indeed, largely eliminating—the risk of ongoing HIV transmission. Observational studies of heterosexual couples have confirmed that successful ART reduces probability of HIV transmission.58,59 In 11 of 13 such studies, almost no HIV transmission was observed when the infected partner was receiving ART.60,61 In studies in which transmission events occurred despite ART, the HIV-infected participants were likely not reliably adherent to ART.62 The PARTNER study, a prospective observational study of 767 serodiscordant couples, 40% of which were same-sex male couples, recently reported no HIV transmission occurring during an estimated 894 couple-years of observation during which the majority of penetrative anal or vaginal sex was condomless, and where the HIV-infected partner was receiving ART.63

The HPTN 052 (HIV Prevention Trials Network 052) study64 was a randomized clinical trial (RCT) undertaken to prospectively determine the prevention benefit of ART. Among 1763 HIV serodiscordant couples in 9 countries, HIV transmission was reduced by more than 96% during a period of 18 months by adding ART to standard prevention strategies. The results also demonstrated a clinical benefit (reduction in incident tuberculosis) to individuals offered ART at CD4 cell counts greater than 350/μL compared with ART initiation at CD4 cell counts less than 250/μL.65 An ecological study among people who inject drugs in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, suggested that ART significantly reduces spread of HIV infection.66 In Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, for every 1% increase in ART use, a 1.4% decrease in HIV incidence was observed.67 An association of similar magnitude was established in a population-based analysis in British Columbia.66,68

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief69 and the World Health Organization (WHO)70 now recommend that HIV-infected persons whose sex partners are HIV-uninfected be offered immediate initiation of ART, irrespective of CD4 cell count. The Internation Antiviral Society–USA71 and US Department of Health and Human Services72 recommend that ART initiation be offered to persons with HIV infection, regardless of CD4 cell count, for both individual health and transmission prevention benefits. Most recently, the WHO has recommended that ART be offered to all persons with CD4 cell counts less than 500/μL regardless of symptoms and with CD4 cell counts greater than 500/μL in a number of specific clinical settings.70 Extrapolating from observed individual and population benefits, studies have demonstrated that in the United States, expanded screening (1 time in low-risk and annually in high-risk persons, such as those in serodiscordant partnerships or with multiple sex partners) with immediate ART initiation for individuals who test HIV-seropositive is a cost-effective method of preventing transmission.73 Early ART targeted to HIV-serodiscordant couples has also been projected to be cost-effective in resource-limited settings.74

Recent ecological analyses from areas where MSM are most affected by HIV infection have not reported declines in HIV incidence or prevalence as ART use has expanded, despite the encouraging data from the PARTNER study.63,75 Sustained HIV transmission from untreated (or inconsistently treated) MSM with high levels of plasma and genital HIV RNA is likely driving these epidemics.7577

Acute and early HIV infection may limit the effect of ART on the prevention of HIV transmission. During this period, plasma and genital viral loads reach high concentrations and may remain elevated for several months. Very few people learn their serostatus during this period.78 Newer HIV tests12 and testing algorithms that incorporate HIV-1 RNA testing may enhance the likelihood of detection during this time, but the overall effect is likely to be small because the clinical diagnosis of acute HIV infection is frequently not suspected.79 Because people with acute and early HIV infection contribute disproportionately to the spread of HIV,80,81 correct diagnosis and prompt intervention are needed.7 Small studies of the sexual behavior of people with early HIV infection do not suggest that behavior change alone will suffice; thus, immediate, lifelong ART is recommended.82 Early treatment preserves CD4 cell counts83 and reduces ongoing viral diversification and the size of the viral reservoir.84,85 Moreover, failure to provide ART during a clinical encounter that occurs early in the disease can result in loss to follow-up with the patient, who may re-engage with care only when they have developed an HIV-related complication.86

Adherence to ART is crucial for sustained HIV-1 suppression. Consistent with the current International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care guidelines, once-daily, fixed-dose combination ART is preferred whenever possible.71,72,87 Even with such regimens, complete adherence can be challenging. Behavioral interventions88 that have shown promise include brief psychosocial counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy,8993 risk-reduction behavioral interventions,40 motivational interviewing,9395 managed problem-solving counseling,96 adverse-effects coping interventions,97 peer-led social support groups,98,99 and counseling interventions for specific populations, including recently released inmates,100 youth,101 urban-dwelling HIV-seropositive individuals with depression,102 and persons with low health literacy skills.103,104 Personalized telephone calls are effective, and computer-administered adherence promotion has shown promise.105107 Among people who inject drugs, medication-assisted therapy and directly administered ART have improved adherence.108,109 For recommendations regarding the preventive benefits of ART, see Box 1.

Risk Reduction, Disclosure of HIV Serostatus, and Partner Notification

Behavioral interventions have been shown to reduce sexual risk behaviors, increase condom use, and reduce subsequent STIs among persons living with HIV (Table 3).3551,110116 The CDC has identified effective, evidence-based behavioral risk-reduction interventions developed for people living with HIV (Table 2).50 As seen in Table 3, some of the “best” and “good” evidence (as labeled by the CDC) were developed before ART was widely available. A subset of these interventions has been subjected to economic evaluation and shown to be cost-effective.115,116 Further, some of the interventions described in Table 2 are brief and could be provided in a clinical setting, whereas others are more intensive and would likely be available only through other resources.

Although implementation of universal ART for HIV-infected persons remains incomplete, expanded use of ART at all stages of HIV infection has changed the dynamic between risk behaviors and how they are perceived. The effect of ART on sexual behavior is likely complex and depends on numerous factors at the individual level.51 Ongoing behavioral risk assessment is a critical component of care for persons with HIV and should inform a discussion of risk reduction. However, data indicate that despite evidence of benefit, only 61% of people living with HIV who engage in risk behavior with serodiscordant partners receive risk-reduction prevention services.117 Effective behavioral risk-reduction strategies are typically delivered using individualized counseling techniques, including motivational interviewing118,119 and skills-based counseling.120,121 In settings where such counseling cannot be delivered, clinicians should at minimum conduct a brief risk assessment122,123 and refer patients to available relevant health services. Risk screening protocols124 may be useful to identify individuals in need of more intensive counseling in busy clinical settings125 or to monitor for incident STIs126 or clinical indications of injection drug use. Importantly, risks identified during these conversations should facilitate discussion about potential effects of ongoing risk behavior, even in the setting of successfully suppressed plasma HIV viral load. For example, inflammation caused by genital STIs or other inflammatory processes can increase HIV-1 RNA levels in genital secretions even when plasma HIV is suppressed by ART, thus rendering the “fully suppressed” person potentially infectious.127 In addition, superinfection (acquisition of a second HIV strain after an immune response to the initial strain has been established) may be relatively frequent in some populations and may be associated with poor clinical outcomes.128 Last, treatment for HIV does not affect the risk for acquisition of other STIs.129

Persons with HIV should receive guidance and support in disclosing infection status to sex and drug injection partners. In some jurisdictions, legislation that criminalizes HIV exposure may discourage HIV-infected persons from disclosure; thus, it is important to know the relevant legal context and to be aware of resources that may facilitate this process.130 Some care settings have formalized HIV partner management programs and demonstrated enhanced effectiveness of partner elicitation and notification.131,132 If self-disclosure is used, factors to discuss are how to prepare for disclosure, to whom it will be made, when and how it will take place, how it can affect the client and persons to whom disclosure is made, and the stressful nature of the process.133

For recommendations regarding risk reduction counseling, status disclosure, and partner notification, see Box 1.

Needle Exchange and Other Harm Reduction Interventions Among People Who Inject Drugs

Simultaneous scale-up of combining access to ART, opioid substitution therapy, and harm reduction services can greatly reduce the incidence of HIV infection among people who inject drugs, and is supported by technical guidelines from the WHO, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.134136 In an ecological study in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, increased ART coverage corresponded with reduction in “community median plasma viral” load and an approximately 50% reduction in new HIV diagnoses, including those among people who inject drugs.66 More recently, a population-based analysis in British Columbia demonstrated a greater than 90% province-wide decline in new diagnoses of HIV infection, which was largely attributed to the expansion of harm-reduction programs coupled with enhanced ART coverage among people who inject drugs.68 Unfortunately, people who use drugs face widespread barriers to accessing ART in many settings.137

Treatment for opiate addiction with opioid substitution therapies, especially methadone, increases the likelihood that people who inject drugs will initiate ART.138 Once initiated, methadone maintenance increases ART adherence, including among homeless persons.139 Opioid substitution therapies likely reduce HIV transmission by reducing illicit opioid use, sharing of injection equipment, numbers of sex partners, and exchange of sex for drugs or money.140 In addition, there is no evidence of increased sexual risk behavior after initiating ART among people who inject drugs.141,142 Of note, use of opioid substitution therapies should be voluntary; coercive treatment does not prevent HIV transmission and does not treat addiction.143

Needle and syringe exchange programs link individuals to health care services and provide sterile injection equipment and supplies, reducing associated transmission risks. No RCTs document efficacy for these programs, although observational reports support their use. Health outcomes among people who inject drugs living in New York City when syringe exchange was legal were compared with those among people who inject drugs living in Newark, New Jersey, when exchange was illegal. People who inject drugs living in Newark had substantially higher prevalence rates of HIV, hepatitis C virus, and hepatitis B virus infections and more frequent self-reported needle reuse and sharing.144 Access to a supervised injection facility is associated with improved individual health outcomes,145147 risk behaviors,148,149 and societal outcomes.150 Moreover, the use of medicalized heroin in a supervised injection facility has clinical benefit151 and is cost-effective.152

In contrast, although most persons who use drugs take them by mouth, insufflation, smoking, or anal or vaginal insertion rather than injection, data that might inform HIV prevention strategies targeted at such noninjection drug use are limited. Approaches to HIV prevention for substance users are consistent with those used among non–substance users and should emphasize prevention of sexual transmission. Emerging data support novel strategies, including medications to treat stimulant dependence in MSM153 and reduce risk behaviors in active stimulant users.154 For recommendations regarding prevention in people who inject drugs, see Box 1.

The HIV care continuum provides a representation of the steps necessary to take HIV-infected persons from diagnosis to suppression of plasma HIV-1 viral load. The value of investing in linkage to care after a new HIV diagnosis has been demonstrated.155,156 A model-based study demonstrated that investments along the most distal part of the care continuum (ensuring adherence, linkage, and retention) were more economically efficient than those devoted to increase HIV screening.157

Moving individuals across the HIV care continuum can be arduous for those on the margins of the health care delivery system.158,159 Interventions that consider the individual’s social environment and attendant structural factors produce more positive and sustainable outcomes compared with those that do not.160 Commonly cited community or structural barriers include fear of being stigmatized because of an HIV diagnosis; joblessness resulting from disclosure; inability to afford health care; homelessness or unstable housing; incarceration; lack of a supportive social network; food insecurity; and legal, legislative, and policy factors that pose obstacles to addressing these concerns.161,162

For these reasons, structural and community-level interventions (broadly defined as those that build on the awareness that environmental, social, political, and economic factors are potential sources of HIV risk and vulnerability) are increasingly important.162

Linkage to Care

The period after a person is initially diagnosed with HIV represents a critical opportunity to establish linkage to care. Failure to do so reduces the opportunity to address current health issues, access preventive services, and initiate timely ART. However, data to inform interventions to ensure that this linkage is made are sparse. One RCT evaluated a brief (up to 5 sessions) case management intervention focused on identifying individual strengths, reducing barriers to obtaining care, and accompanying persons to appointments. Compared with passive referral, the intervention was more effective in creating linkage to care.163 Use of outreach efforts, financial incentives, navigation assistance, partner services, and social marketing have successfully engaged individuals from underserved and marginalized populations, including persons of color and MSM.164166 Further research is needed to identify barriers to care and optimal strategies for increasing linkage to care. New approaches to program science should inform this process and are especially important in resource-limited settings.

Retention in Care

Consistent retention in care has been associated with shorter time to viral load suppression, lower cumulative viral load burden, improved immune function, decreased mortality, and decreased engagement in HIV transmission behaviors.167,168 A large observational study found that retention increased substantially after the implementation of clinic-wide interventions, including print reminders and brief verbal messages used by all clinic staff.169 Patient navigation interventions, community and peer outreach, print media, verbal messages from clinic staff, financial incentives, and youth-focused case management and support have been associated with increased retention in care.107,170173 For HIV-infected, opioid-dependent individuals, 1 RCT demonstrated that medication-assisted drug treatment (buprenorphine and naloxone) was associated with increased retention in care.174 For recommendations regarding clinic-wide interventions, see Box 1.

Until recently, the prevention of HIV infection for uninfected individuals was focused only on behavioral interventions. Although these continue to be important, effective biomedical approaches are now available (see Table 4 and Table 5). Importantly, all biomedical prevention trials have also included state-of-the-art behavioral counseling as part of the approach. Thus, HIV prevention should not be considered as either behavioral or biomedical but rather as a combination intervention.

Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 4.  Completed Clinical Trials of Immediate Antiretroviral Therapy for HIV-Positive Partners and Medical Male Circumcision
Table Graphic Jump LocationTable 5.  Completed Clinical Trials of Preexposure Prophylaxis With Antiretroviral Drugs