Over the course of the next two days, February 15th/16th 2012, the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development is hosting a policy seminar in London to present the final results of its systematic evaluation of the community response to HIV and AIDS. Alongside DFID representatives, delegates from USAID, Global Fund, UNAIDS, PEPFAR and a range of civil society organisations are expected to attend.
Supported by a World Bank / DFID partnership, the three-year evaluation has established a strong evidence-base showing how communities respond effectively to HIV and AIDS, and how this response can support national strategies for tackling the pandemic.
Overall, the evaluation results strongly indicate that community engagement produces positive results in most instances. Factors that help communities to be empowered and effective in preventing HIV/AIDS include a positive policy environment and an enabling health infrastructure. Greater community involvement can result in more money being invested locally in prevention; changed attitudes and behaviours, and increased use of treatment and care services. The findings help those interested in improving programming and policies to maximise the potential and contributions of local people.
Given the multiplicity of community responses, the researchers selected an approach that involved several countries, several methods, and several types of studies. A total of 11 studies were carried out in eight countries (Burkina Faso, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Lesotho, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe), selected for their diversity of epidemic status (generalized vs. concentrated), HIV prevalence (from high to low) and regional location.
The evaluation represents groundbreaking research on the community response to HIV and AIDS and through uptake of the core findings it is hoped that the initiative will inspire the donor community and governments to increase their investment in the community response.