|AIDS in the Context of Development (UNAIDS - UNRISD, 2000, 77 p.)|
|An Agenda for Further Social Science Research|
There is no shortage of issues for research by social scientists seeking to improve understanding of, and response to, the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The following list grows out of our own work for this paper, and it is also shaped by our discussions with social scientists already actively involved in research and its application in this field.
Two overarching concerns are reflected in the list. The first is the need for greater differentiation in the analysis of who is affected by the epidemic (distinguishing by gender, age, social position, education, occupation, rural or urban setting, and so forth), greater ability to distinguish the reasons for any distribution and trends that appear to be occurring, and a more concrete understanding of how HIV/AIDS affects households and societies as a whole. Second, there is a need to appreciate the socioeconomic, cultural and political factors that both strengthen and inhibit the capacity of particular societies to deal with the epidemic.
The list is then divided into three broad categories: (i) contextual issues, research about which can help policy makers, programme planners and managers, social scientists and activists understand and respond better to the numerous factors that are driving the pandemic; (ii) impact issues that remain critical to understanding effective approaches to mitigation, support for affected households and communities, and realistic international responses; and (iii) programming issues, where research can aid in the design and implementation of prevention, care and mitigation efforts.
Findings from too many of the research projects undertaken to date have not been relevant for programme design or policy development. Thus, beginning at the conceptualization and design stage of any social science research activity that deals with HIV/AIDS, researchers must work closely with programme planners, policy makers and advocates to ensure that findings are relevant to their needs.