Spotlight Series

The spotlight series is an editorial series containing expert voices on current topics in HIV prevention and gender.


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Microbicides are compounds that are being tested for the prevention of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Unlike such strategies as condom use and abstinence, microbicides can be used independently of the sexual partner’s consent. Until recently, research has focused on vaginal microbicides; however, recent initiatives and ongoing studies highlight the importance of rectal microbicides as part of the HIV prevention toolkit.

This editorial summarizes the evidence on condoms for HIV prevention, discusses barriers and opportunities regarding supply, and proposes ways to reinvigorate the use of condoms as an HIV prevention tool. Condoms play a vital role in both primary prevention and in interventions for the promotion of positive health, prevention, and dignity for people living with HIV.


Sustained research successes during the first two decades of the AIDS epidemic, an unprecedented expansion of HIV prevention and treatment programs during the last decade, and recent global attention and leadership have set the stage for the virtual elimination of new HIV infections in infants in the next decade.

Despite decades of investment in HIV prevention, a large and vulnerable population—adolescent girls—remains invisible, underserved, and at disproportionate risk of HIV.

In countries battling the most severe HIV epidemics in the world, there is yet another powerful and under-addressed structural force at play: the ubiquitous availability of cheap alcohol and drinking norms that encourage its hazardous use. Katherine Fritz advocates for a multilevel response to alcohol and risky sex behavior.

With recent epidemiology showing a continual rise in HIV rates among sex workers, Melissa Ditmore argues that now is time to develop holistic, effective, and efficient programming.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is increasingly recognized as a critical driver of the HIV epidemic in many settings, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the incidence of HIV infection is growing at alarming rates among young women in particular. There are few examples of interventions that have successfully tackled the challenge of combining HIV and violence prevention, but two innovative programs, one in Nicaragua and the other in Uganda, have found ways to do so. Mary Ellsberg and Myra Betron describe the work of Puntos de Encuentro and Raising Voices to share successful approaches to address GBV with other program planners.

In this issue of Spotlight on Prevention, George Ayala underscores the need for increased attention to and resources for HIV prevention programming for MSM.

Quarraisha Abdool Karim calls on implementers to “push the paradigm,” amplifying promising approaches to HIV prevention among young sub-Saharan women. Innovative approaches are urged to further the impact of school completion programs, test and treat frameworks, and interventions to increase accurate self-risk perception.

Rose Wicher and Ward Cates from FHI make the case for increased attention to prevention of unintended pregnancy among HIV-infected women in this edition of Spotlight on Prevention.

Helen Epstein provides insight into her book examining Uganda's pioneering Zero Grazing Campaign targeting multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships.