A role for health communication in the continuum of HIV care, treatment, and prevention

Cecilia Tomori, Kathryn Risher, Rupali J. Limaye, Lynn M. Van Lith, Susannah Gibbs, Marina Smelyanskaya, David D. Celentano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Health communication has played a pivotal role in HIV prevention efforts since the beginning of the epidemic. The recent paradigm of combination prevention, which integrates behavioral, biomedical, and structural interventions, offers new opportunities for employing health communication approaches across the entire continuum of care. We describe key areas where health communication can significantly enhance HIV treatment, care, and prevention, presenting evidence from interventions that include health communication components. These interventions rely primarily on interpersonal communication, especially individual and group counseling, both within and beyond clinical settings to enhance the uptake of and continued engagement in care. Many successful interventions mobilize a network of trained community supporters or accompagnateurs, who provide education, counseling, psychosocial support, treatment supervision, and other pragmatic assistance across the care continuum. Community treatment supporters reduce the burden on overworked medical providers, engage a wider segment of the community, and offer a more sustainable model for supporting people living with HIV. Additionally, mobile technologies are increasingly seen as promising avenues for ongoing cost-effective communication throughout the treatment cascade. A broader range of communication approaches, traditionally employed in HIV prevention efforts, that address community and sociopolitical levels through mass media, school-or workplace-based education, and entertainment modalities may be useful to interventions seeking to address the full care continuum. Future interventions would benefit from development of a framework that maps appropriate communication theories and approaches onto each step of the care continuum to evaluate the efficacy of communication components on treatment outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S306-S310
JournalJournal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes
Issue numberSUPPL.3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014


  • behavioral interventions
  • combination prevention
  • continuum of HIV care
  • counseling
  • health communication
  • mobile communication technologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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