Biomedical HIV Prevention Including Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and Opiate Agonist Therapy for Women Who Inject Drugs: State of Research and Future Directions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Women who inject drugs (WWID) are at higher risk of HIV compared with their male counterparts as a result of multiple factors, including biological, behavioral, and sociostructural factors, yet comparatively little effort has been invested in testing and delivering prevention methods that directly target this group. In this article, we discuss the need for expanded prevention interventions for WWID, focusing on 2 safe, effective, and approved, yet underutilized biomedical prevention methods: opiate agonist therapy (OAT) and oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Although both interventions are well researched, they have not been well examined in the context of gender. We discuss the drivers of women injectors' higher HIV risk, review the effectiveness of OAT and PrEP interventions among women, and explain why these new HIV prevention tools should be prioritized for WWID. There is substantial potential for impact of OAT and PrEP programs for WWID in the context of broader gender-responsive HIV prevention initiatives. Although awaiting efficacy data on other biomedical approaches in the HIV prevention research "pipeline," we propose that the scale-up and implementation of these proven, safe, and effective interventions are needed now.

publication date

  • June 2015