|Partners in Prevention: International case studies of effective health promotion practice in HIV/AIDS (Best Practice - Key Material) (UNAIDS, 1998, 84 p.)|
by Noerine Kaleeba
Community Mobilization Advisor
Department of Policy, Strategy and Research
There is increasing understanding about what works in HIV prevention, but that understanding also comes with the realization that, like all other efforts towards changing human behaviour, HIV prevention programmes may not be effective in influencing behaviour under all circumstances, or for everyone, or forever. What seems to emerge as a consistent feature of HIV prevention programmes that work is the involvement and active participation of community members or community groups.
Community level action, much of it initiated by persons infected with or affected by HIV, has played a major role in the global response to AIDS. In many countries, community response came before official governmental responses and has proved to be essential to many components of a successful national response, most notably raising awareness, assisting with risk assessment, and supporting policy and legal changes, impact alleviation, advocacy, as well as family and community care and support. Communities, however, are not closed, self-sustaining systems; the ability of a community, no matter how well organized and motivated, is limited. It is not surprising, therefore, that in those countries where there has been successful partnerships between official government and community efforts, HIV prevention programmes have worked to a large extent.
Although we must continue to gather information, test and refine our understanding of what works, UNAIDS believes that the timely sharing of information on what seems to be working well is essential. The publication of the four case studies of Australia, Canada, Thailand and Uganda, which were presented at an official satellite symposium of the XIth International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver in 1996, is one first step by UNAIDS in this direction.