How can HIV be prevented?

Today, numerous HIV prevention methods are available for use in combination or on their own. These range from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—in which healthy people routinely take anti-HIV drugs to reduce their risk of getting HIV—to condom use. Scientists continue to develop new tools and techniques to prevent HIV, including work toward an HIV vaccine. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more information about HIV prevention research.

Preventing Perinatal Transmission

Advances in HIV treatment and prevention have greatly decreased transmission of HIV from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Prevention strategies and interventions can reduce this risk to 1% or less.1

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, experts recommend that you:

  • Get an HIV test. If you know you have HIV, you can take steps to lower your risk of perinatal transmission.
  • If you have HIV, take anti-HIV drugs for yourself and your child. You should take anti-HIV drugs during pregnancy, labor, and birth, and your child should take them for the first weeks of life.
  • If you have HIV, avoid breastfeeding. HIV can pass to your child through breast milk. If you live in the United States or another country with safe water, formula feeding is best for prevention of HIV.

NICHD is heavily involved in developing ways to prevent perinatal transmission of HIV. Read about the research advances in this area through the links on the Publications and Resources page.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How can I prevent transmitting HIV to my baby? Retrieved May 17, 2021, from
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