Journal Article

Not just HIV: Preventing other viral sexually transmitted infections

It is estimated that more than one million people acquire an STI every day. Each STI on its own represents a significant public health burden, but interactions between STIs can further increase their detrimental effect on human health. The classic example is the increased risk of HIV acquisition in the presence of a prevalent STI like herpes simplex virus and human papillomavirus. STIs may facilitate HIV acquisition by recruiting HIV target cells, disrupting mucosal barriers and/or mediating mucosal responses. Targeting these STIs through multipurpose prevention technologies can support indirect efforts to control the HIV epidemic.

Multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) are single products designed to address multiple reproductive health needs. These products may be used for the simultaneous prevention of different combinations of HIV, different STIs and/or unintended pregnancy, depending on the product. MPTs can deliver a single broad-spectrum active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) or a combination of different APIs through different formulations/devices.

The term STI can be applied to curable infections such as trichomoniasis, gonococcal, chlamydial or syphilis infection, as well as to a broad range of incurable infections such as HIV, HPV and HSV. Once established, these persistent infections reside in the host for life. This commentary focuses on the prevention of noncurable, viral STIs.