Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Looking back to go Forward

At this time when organizations are unveiling their priorities for the year, I wonder how much time and effort is spent looking at progress/evaluation reports produced outside their own, and other mainstream structures like government and the UN.

I am drawn back to three reports released at the end of last year that AIDSPortal highlighted on its website and regional newsletters. These include: Scenarios from Africa 2008, The Treatment Barometer: A Survey of Treatment provision for PLHIV in Southern Africa, The Global Health Watch 2, Undoubtedly, there are many more.

Scenarios from Africa 2008 presents a form of qualitative analysis of young people’s (median age of 16 years) knowledge and views on HIV based on their competition entries of a story for a short film on HIV. About 40 thousand youths from 43 countries (4 in southern Africa) submitted more than 18 000 texts. Among the findings are:

· Young people do not make connections between STIs and HIV, most probably because organizations tend to divorce HIV prevention from reproductive health programmes
· While condom use is gaining support among young people, they tend to view faithfulness and abstinence as too difficult to achieve- a worrying trend as they move into adulthood
· Young people rarely express alternatives to transactional and age-disparate sex, regarding them as all-pervasive and inevitable. photo credit: Eva-Lotta Jansson/IRIN

The Treatment Barometer records the findings of a community initiative to assess progress on provision of HIV treatment and the extent to which governments in Southern Africa have met their commitments:


· Hidden behind figures of expanding rates of national treatment coverage is the fact that rural and peri-urban populations struggle to access services due to weak procurement and logistical systems as well as centralization of services.
· Stigmatization by health care workers is cited as one of the key deterrents to uptake of treatment.
· In addition to national and regional advocacy efforts, civil society can bolster AIDS programmes by providing community based treatment literacy and psychosocial support

The point is, there are many other sources of information that are useful for organizations when critically analyzing their contribution to the HIV response, looking at new areas for engagement and developing useful partnerships.

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