Partner reduction is crucial for balanced “ABC” approach to HIV prevention


Behaviour change programmes to prevent HIV have mainly promoted condom use or abstinence, while partner reduction remains the neglected component of ABC

The key to preventing the spread of HIV, especially in epidemics driven mainly by heterosexual transmission, is through changing sexual behaviour. Interest has been growing in an “ABC” approach in which A stands for abstinence or delay of sexual activity, B for be faithful, and C for condom use. Although “be faithful” literally implies monogamy, it also includes reductions incasual sex and multiple sexual partnerships (and related issues of partner selection) that would reduce higher risk sex. While most of the often polarised discussion surrounding AIDS prevention has focused on promoting abstinence or use of condoms, partner reduction has been the neglected middle child of the ABC approach.

Published in British Medical Journal 2004: 328(7444), 891-893

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James D Shelton
Daniel T Halperin
Vinand Nantulya
Malcolm Potts
Helene D Gayle
King K Holmes
Publication date: 
April 10, 2004
Publication type: 
Journal Article