HC3’s second HIV expert consultation, focusing on Community-level factors and their impact on HIV prevention outcomes, kicked off November 20th in Johannesburg, South Africa. Participants came from around Africa and the US, with representation from Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa and the United States.
Please watch the following video about our second HIV Expert Consultation:
The day began with participants dreaming of what an ideal community may look like. A community where people support each other, there is no stigma and where people living with HIV (PLHIV) have an active role in developing the community’s response. Each participant brought their own ideas on how they would like to see this happen and what it would mean. The exercise set the stage and gave participants the chance to share their thoughts up front.
There was a strong feeling among the participants that community-level factors have been underexplored to date and need to be brought to the forefront of discussions around HIV outcomes. One comment made was that the factors are currently “not seen.” Often there is a focus on the facility and not the community but if the community can be brought to the forefront and empowered, more may be accomplished.
After the opening, the majority of the day was spent reviewing the current evidence presented in a synthesis document. As the evidence was presented, it became apparent that currently there are not many interventions influencing community-level factors available that have been evaluated and proven effective, or if there are, they have not been published in peer-reviewed literature. This was seen as a large gap as well as a frustration. As many participants work in the field they want to see what programs are working and can then be adapted to be implemented in other communities.
Through the dream exercise and the review of the evidence the path forward for the rest of the consultation was laid out. Gaps were identified but with those gaps was discussion and thought. It opened up ideas for how the next two days can take shape and what needs to be looked at more in depth in order to be able to produce tangible results at the end of the consultation.