Groups with a high risk of exposure (axis 2)

Axis 2 is directed towards people with risky behaviours in an environment where HIV and other STIs are widespread. The principle is: prevention should be undertaken where the risk is concentrated. Read more about the different projects here. 

According to UNAIDS, Switzerland is suffering a "concentrated HIV epidemic". While an average of three out of 1,000 people are seropositive in Switzerland, HIV is very unevenly distributed. Among gays and other men who have sex with men (MSM), 10 to 15% are carriers of the virus. In people from countries where there is a generalised epidemic, the infection rate may be as high as 30%. Switzerland does not have figures for transgender people, but it is estimated that the prevalence of HIV among transgender sex workers may also be as high as 30%. The same is thought to apply to injecting drug users. Prevention therefore has to be focused on the areas in which the risks are concentrated.

  1. For many years, the reporting system has identified three particularly high-risk groups:
  2. Gay men and other MSM;
  3. People from countries where there is a high incidence of HIV, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa;
  4. Injecting drug users.

Since 2012, transgender persons (FtM and MtF) have also been epidemiologically monitored in Switzerland for HIV and other STIs for which reporting is obligatory.

The objective pursued by directing preventive measures at target groups may be summarised as follows: to slow the spread of HIV within high prevalence groups and to contain the concentrated epidemic.

Key ideas for prevention

Preventive measures taken to protect target groups focus both on better individual protection (behavioural prevention) and on the socio-economic and legal conditions that sustain and promote preventive behaviour (structural prevention). HIV prevention in Switzerland is based on the "learning" principle, i.e. learning how to protect oneself and to protect other people. "Non-discrimination" can be added to this concept: HIV positive people must be integrated into society and not discriminated against.

Levels of communication

People from target groups are informed on three levels: as individuals, within a subgroup living in a specific social group and as members of the general population. Linked to the double behavioural and structural approach, this model constitutes a prevention matrix that combines action for protecting the individual and public health measures.


With its partners, the FOHP undertakes prevention projects on behalf of and with the following groups:

  1. Gay men and other MSM,
  2. People from sub-Saharan Africa,
  3. Sex workers (including transgender sex workers)
  4. A campaign has also been launched to combat infectious diseases in prisons, where the prevalence of HIV and other infections/communicable diseases is high.

Counselling and voluntary screening programmes have been specifically created for the benefit of at-risk groups. They ensure that the people concerned are able to access appropriate prevention measures.

Last modification 06.12.2018

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division of Communicable Diseases
Prevention and Promotion Section
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
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