|Guide to Strategic Planning Process for a National Response to HIV/AIDS: Situation Analysis (UNAIDS, 1998, 36 p.)|
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The UNAIDS Best Practice Collection
As part of its Best Practice Collection, UNAIDS is currently building up a collection of documents, known as Technical Updates, on a number of important subjects related to HIV and development. These discuss the challenges faced in the field, and give specific examples of responses that have worked to date. They can help guide a situation analysis by pointing to the social and economic roots of various HIV-related behaviours and situations.
Technical Updates are, or soon will be, available on the following subjects: Antiretrovirals, Blood Safety, Community Mobilization, Counselling, Determinants, Diagnostic Testing Methods, Human Rights, Military, Mother-to-Child Transmission, Men who have Sex with Men, National Strategic Planning, People living with HIV/AIDS, Refugees, Schools, STDs, Prisons, the Female Condom, Tuberculosis, and Womens Vulnerability. The collection will be expanded and updated regularly. These documents are available from UNAIDS offices, and can be downloaded off the Internet by visiting our homepage: http://www.unaids.org.
The UNAIDS Epi Fact Sheet Series
UNAIDS is working with national AIDS programmes and WHO to compile a series of fact sheets giving key epidemiological data on countries. These facts sheets include figures or estimates for HIV, AIDS, and STD prevalence, as well as AIDS case reports. They also give socio-economic and health care indicators, which may help explain vulnerability to HIV. Finally, they give data on knowledge and risk behaviour. These data, crucial to any situation analysis, are being prepared for a large number of countries, and can be obtained from national AIDS programmes. UNAIDS country and regional offices as well as headquarters in Geneva can provide copies of the Epi fact sheets for other countries of interest. They are also accessible through the UNAIDS Web site (www.unaids.org).
The UNAIDS Country Profile Series
The Country Profile series gives country-by-country information on the background to HIV and the actions currently being taken to reduce its spread and impact. A country profile contains much information useful to a situation analysis. It describes major risk factors. For example, it discusses major issues of importance to the epidemic in the country. Country profiles can be requested from UNAIDS country and regional offices as well as headquarters in Geneva.
Suggested sources of information
The following suggestions will point to sources for different types of information needed in a situation analysis. The situation analysis team should bear in mind that the epidemic affects people differently. The more specific the information, the better it will help explain who is most vulnerable to HIV and its impact. Try to report key information separately for men and women, and for different age groups. In some countries, splitting up data by religion, ethnic group or language group will highlight significant differences in vulnerability to infection.
Basic structural indicators of wealth, education, access to services, etc. are easily available and give a quick sketch of the landscape in which HIV unfolds.
This information, which can be stored and updated regularly, can be found in the national bureau of statistics documents or the statistical reports of various ministries. It is often assembled in a readily accessible manner by international agencies such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) or other UNAIDS cosponsors. UNAIDS Epi Fact Sheet and Country Profile series includes a compilation of socio-economic indicators that may have implications for the HIV epidemic. Several private institutions also put together such information - individual banks and stockbrokers issue country profiles on many countries while companies like The Economist Intelligence Unit and Business Monitor regularly compile and update structural data.
A review of epidemiological information will identify what is known about patterns of infection, and major trends.
The health ministry usually compiles surveillance information. International organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau and WHO also make data readily available. The latter keeps comprehensive lists of reported cases. UNAIDS Epi Fact Sheet series puts together comprehensive data on the prevalence of AIDS, HIV, and STDs. The Country Profile series summarizes epidemiological risk factors. In some countries, smaller scale studies containing information about HIV in specific populations are available. The results of these studies are most frequently published in national and international journals. Many can be accessed by searching a database such as AIDSLine or MEDLine.
Studies of knowledge, attitudes, and risk behaviours
Surveys and other studies on HIV, attitudes to the epidemic, infected people, and sexual and drug injecting behaviour as well as information about those behaviours themselves will help identify sub-populations that may be vulnerable to infection and the suffering it causes.
In many developing countries, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) series regularly collects information at a national level about family formation that includes information on sexual behaviour and condom use. Many recent DHS surveys have included a module specifically on HIV and AIDS. WHO has also sponsored a series of national-level surveys on sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS in several countries.
UNAIDS Epi Fact Sheets contain summary indicators of what is known about knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour related to HIV.
While national surveys are extremely useful for establishing broad outlines, in-depth studies of more limited populations are usually more helpful in describing feelings and behaviours in sensitive areas such as sex and drug use. When such studies are conducted by academics they often appear in published journals. Often, they are undertaken or sponsored by government departments or NGOs, and published as stand-alone documents.
Other social and economic studies
The previous two sections will have helped answer the question of who is infected or at risk of infection. Other studies may help answer questions about why people are infected or at risk of infection. Studies of womens status, marriage traditions, the labour market, the legal infrastructure, migration patterns, the human rights situation, etc. may be available. These studies will also help identify the climate that dictates the care and services available to people living with HIV, and the communities potentially most affected by the epidemic.
As with those studies relating more directly to HIV, academic journals and government departments also publish studies on many social issues. International organizations such as the UNAIDS cosponsors, the International Labour Office (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and others may also have information in these areas.
Private sector research institutes, think tanks, banks or consultancies may have compiled reports on key sectors or issues in areas of economic interest. Market research firms and advertising agencies are often sources of information about media and communications. Political information may come from institutes of strategic studies, political risk consultancies, and legal and human rights institutions, either national or international. Professional associations may have information in areas of interest to their members.
Information about key resources
A situation analysis looks for opportunities to bring many groups, skills, and resources into the national response to HIV. Potential partners may be identified by scanning lists of companies, professional associations or community organizations which might have something to contribute to the response. Chambers of commerce and industry, trade promotion boards, foreign embassies and NGO umbrella organizations may publish lists of business, community, and professional groups active in various areas.