HIV prevention aims to prevent the transmission of HIV and reinfection. HIV/AIDS-related treatment aims to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS. HIV prevention and HIV/AIDS-related treatment support each other in many ways.
• Well-designed HIV prevention activities can lead to increased voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), which in turn can lead to broader and quicker access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
• Well-designed HIV prevention activities can reduce fear and stigma around HIV/AIDS, which in turn improves the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS as they become more accepted and understood in their families and communities.
• Through VCT, people can learn about HIV prevention and, if they are HIV-positive, be given information about how to live safely with the virus and plan for the future. VCT also helps people to get assistance early on and to learn about possible treatments for health problems that may occur. For example, VCT can be helpful for preventing tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
• If women learn that they have HIV/AIDS, because of prevention programmes and VCT services, they can access services which, if they become pregnant, will reduce the chance of passing on HIV to their unborn or newborn children. Women and men might also choose to increase contraceptive use.
• Access to care and support has been shown to increase condom use and other preventive behaviour among people living with HIV/AIDS. These positive changes can be reinforced when care and treatment programmes deliberately promote and distribute condoms.
• Increased availability of care and increased visibility and acceptance of people living with HIV/AIDS makes the broader population more aware of HIV/AIDS and increases safer behaviour.
Case study - Home care in Cambodia
In Cambodia, home-care teams from local organizations support a large number of families affected by HIV/AIDS. Most of the people living with HIV/AIDS found that their overall well-being improved due to the visits from the home-care teams; families spent less money on medicines and had to make fewer visits to hospital. In addition, neighbours, friends and family members came to understand more about HIV/AIDS and to be less afraid of the virus - there was less stigma around HIV/AIDS in the community, making it easier to provide education on HIV prevention.
Participatory group activity
To identify the links between HIV/AIDS-related treatment and HIV prevention.
1. Explain the aim of the activity.
2. Present participants with a definition of HIV prevention.
3. Divide the participants into small groups of four to six people.
4. Ask each group to discuss whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:
• HIV/AIDS-related treatment can help to reduce the need for HIV prevention.
• HIV prevention can help to reduce the need for HIV/AIDS-related treatment.
5. Ask each group to make a diagram or drawing showing the links between HIV/AIDS-related treatment and HIV prevention.
6. Bring everybody back together and ask the groups to share their results. Encourage the participants to ask each other questions and to make comments.
7. Facilitate a group discussion about what has been learned from the activity, based upon questions such as:
• Does everybody have a similar view of the links between HIV/AIDS-related treatment and HIV prevention? Why?
• What is the single most important link between HIV/AIDS-related treatment and HIV prevention? Why?
• Ensure that participants are clear about what is meant by HIV prevention before they assess its link to HIV/AIDS-related treatment. Ensure that their definition includes prevention of other illnesses as well as prevention of HIV transmission.
• Encourage participants to focus on the practical links between HIV prevention and HIV/AIDS-related treatment, rather than the theoretical ones.
• Ensure that participants keep focused on the links between HIV/AIDS-related treatment and HIV prevention, rather than getting distracted by debates about which is more important.
At a skills-building workshop, NGO/CBO participants discussed the statements: "HIV-related treatment can help to reduce the need for HIV prevention"; "HIV prevention can help to reduce the need for HIV-related treatment." They found that, based upon their experiences, they strongly agreed with the statements.
Participants then drew a diagram of how they saw the links between HIV/AIDS-related treatment and HIV prevention in practice.
Reference: Adapted from a workshop on access to HIV-related treatment, India HIV/AIDS Alliance and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, India, February 2001.