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AIDS in U.S. Marches On

Lack of AIDS Fear, Missed Opportunities Hinder Prevention Efforts

More Effective HIV Prevention continued...

Needle exchange, effective sex education, and gay marriage make for a pretty controversial prevention agenda.

"The next frontier in AIDS prevention is to make changes to society that support people to be healthy and make healthy choices," Huebner says. "Currently, that is difficult."

Holtgrave, too, calls for changes in our approach to HIV prevention. He takes a pragmatic approach. Current HIV prevention programs succeed by targeting prevention messages to specific populations. It's effective, Holtgrave says -- but a different targeting strategy could work even better.

"For years we have been custom-tailoring prevention messages on the basis of sexual orientation, socio-demographic status, substance abuse history, race and ethnicity, and geography," he says. "We want to include in that list a person's HIV status. Whether they are aware of status, whether they are negative at low or high risk, or whether they are positive determines the messages to which they respond. For each of those four populations, a different set of services may be necessary."

AIDS fatigue may be setting in. But that's only one more obstacle to overcome.

"It is as important as it ever was for people to learn how to protect themselves, how to protect their families, and how to protect their partners against HIV," Holtgrave says. "Even though people are getting tired of that message, they need to hear it."

Published July 9, 2004.

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