Skip Navigation
Leading research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases
Skip Content Marketing
  • Share this:
  • submit to facebook
  • Tweet it
  • submit to reddit
  • submit to StumbleUpon
  • submit to Google +

New Directions in HIV Prevention

Despite continued efforts and progress made toward halting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the incidence of HIV infection continues to rise throughout the United States and worldwide. More than 56,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV each year—a level that has not declined over the past decade. Accordingly, HIV prevention is one of NIAID’s top priorities.

In FY 2010, the Institute awarded $592 million to support basic and clinical research aimed at preventing HIV. In addition, several key advances from NIAID-supported studies were reported, and the Institute—continuing its commitment in this area—launched a number of promising, innovative programs.

As NIAID continues efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine, the Institute is also pursuing non-vaccine prevention strategies. These strategies include the following:

  • Using topically applied compounds known as microbicides to prevent sexual transmission of the virus
  • Reducing the risk of HIV transmission by providing those who test positive for HIV with medical care and treatment, and improving their adherence to antiretroviral drugs
  • Providing uninfected individuals at high risk for infection with antiretroviral drugs, a strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Treating infected pregnant women with antiretroviral drugs to reduce or prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child
  • Increasing awareness of behavioral changes that have shown promise in reducing the number of new infections

New HIV Prevention Approaches at NIAID


In FY 2010, NIAID launched the multinational clinical trial Promoting Maternal-Infant Survival Everywhere (PROMISE), which is being conducted by the NIAID-supported International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network. The study aims to determine the optimal antiretroviral regimen for reducing HIV mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy and breastfeeding and for preserving the health of both mother and child.

Partnership to reduce the spread of HIV in Washington, DC

Through the DC Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress, NIAID collaborates with the Washington, DC Department of Health. The partnership, announced in FY 2010, is designed to reduce the spread of HIV in the city by identifying populations at high risk for acquiring HIV and developing effective interventions to reduce their risk. The partnership includes a feasibility study that will involve expanded HIV testing to reduce new HIV infections, better link those who test HIV-positive to medical care and treatment, and improve adherence to treatment.

Learn more about PROMISE and DC Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress.

Landmark Advances in HIV Prevention

photo of a woman viewing an x-ray.
A researcher examines x-rays related to a performing a clinical study.
Credit: NIAID

Chemoprophylaxis for HIV prevention in men

An international clinical trial, funded by NIAID as part of the Chemoprophylaxis for HIV Prevention in Men study (also known as iPrEx) was the first to demonstrate that PrEP can safely and effectively reduce the risk of acquiring HIV infection in men who have sex with men. The study found that once-daily oral use of a tablet containing a combination of two antiretroviral drugs used for HIV treatment reduced the risk of HIV infection by 43.8 percent in the study population. This important FY 2010 finding provides the basis for further investigation and development of this prevention strategy.

A new approach to HIV vaccine design

A safe and effective vaccine may be the most powerful prevention tool and remains the best long-term hope for ending the HIV pandemic. In FY 2010, scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center reported the identification of two potent human antibodies that can prevent the majority of known HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory. The process that led to the discovery of these antibodies could serve as a platform for the design of improved HIV vaccines.


A study conducted by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CARPRISA) showed that women who used a vaginal microbicide gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir had 39 percent fewer HIV infections than those using a placebo gel. Given that the majority of new HIV infections are in women, findings of the study, known as CAPRISA 004, are a significant step toward providing an at-risk population with a safe and effective HIV prevention tool. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded this study, and NIAID provided substantial infrastructure development and training that made the study possible.

Learn more about landmark advances in HIV prevention:

Last Updated November 17, 2011

Last Reviewed August 09, 2011