EHPSA has always been keen to find out how different groups of people receive evidence and what the factors are that affect the use of evidence. By now, we know quite a bit about how policymakers use HIV prevention evidence, but we know little about how young people use evidence. This is curious as one of EHPSA’s main research populations is adolescent girls... Luckily, EHPSA was provided with an opportunity to learn more about young people when The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) hosted a national summit on HIV prevention for young women and adolescent girls in April 2018. I learnt what happens when you put a large group of young people in a room with academics, policy makers and civil society representatives.
The outcome? Fired up and ‘woke’ discussions!
I’ll tell you what happened.
As EHPSA studies are drawing to a close we are continually searching for fora to present study findings to stakeholders who may make good use of them. The SADC stock-taking meeting in Johannesburg in April, presented a unique opportunity. The meeting brought together all ministers of health and NAC Directors from the 15 SADC countries to discuss progress made towards reaching HIV prevention targets - the 100-day action plans - which are part of the Revitalise HIV Prevention drive.
The UNAIDS goal of cutting new infections by 75 per cent will require a focus on HIV prevention, combined with scaled-up HIV testing and treatment. EHPSA has a research portfolio that contributes evidence to support the “how to” questions related to this target.
It is an exciting time for EHPSA. As EHPSA-funded studies are winding up, they are beginning to present their findings to key stakeholders in the region.
Recently I have attended three such meetings: the Evidence for Impact Symposium in Lusaka; the UNAIDS/SADC HIV Prevention Stock Taking Meeting in Johannesburg; and the SANAC Adolescent Girls and Young Women Prevention Summit in Johannesburg.
During the next three weeks I will be blogging about these, starting with the Zambia event.
There is growing recognition in international development that research is never purely an academic exercise. We often hear that research should provide evidence that can be used to strengthen policy and programming for vulnerable populations. In other words, we are aiming for policy relevant research because this will improve the lives of citizens. Policymaking is not a straightforward process and can be a messy exercise, with domestic political agendas, norms, values, regional commitments and global movements all influencing the way policy is formulated and implemented. Evidence is often regarded as a neutral player in the game and promoted for its ability to present scientific facts and logic without favouring a specific policy outcome.
There is a silent global epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that is threatening to undermine health gains as well as prospects for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. It seems that insufficient attention is being paid to these diseases that undermine the health of adults and cause congenital abnormalities and death in infants.
Global data from WHO in 2016 shows that there were 357 million cases annually of four curable STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomonas), and around 300,000 foetal and neonatal deaths from syphilis in pregnancy. This latter is more than double the number of AIDS-related deaths in children under the age of 14 years globally, which UNICEF estimates at 120,000 in 2017.
Together Tomorrow is a study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council that explored the HIV prevention needs of male-male partnerships.
This mixed methods study took place in South Africa and Namibia, and involved almost 250 couples (across study phases) in an attempt to better understand behaviours which could place men at increased risk of HIV.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) have been identified as vulnerable to HIV infection and a deeper understanding of the unique behaviours, needs and challenges of male-male partnerships is required.
The study took place in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Network in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and Positive Vibes in Namibia, and in collaboration with investigators from the University of California, San Francisco and University of Michigan.
Poor mental health among men who have sex with men is contributing to increased risk of HIV Read...
Making public healthcare spaces more friendly to men in same-sex relationships could help to reduce the spread of HIV Read...
Together Tomorrow: understanding the HIV prevention needs of men who have sex with men (MSM) and their partners in South Africa and Namibia (3pp). Read...
Research protocol considerations when working with male couples: Lessons learned from the field. Solomons et al. TUPEE713. Read...
1. Coping mechanisms utilised by same-sex couples in Southern Africa, in the context of homophobia and HIV, Gillespie et al (Poster)
2. Queering public healthcare spaces for men who have sex with men in the context of HIV&AIDS: a qualitative study.Ngidi et al (Poster)
3. Sexual agreements among same-sex couples. Essack et al.
4. Engagement in HIV prevention and treatment activities among male couples in South Africa and Namibia. More...
Read the blog here...
Working with traditional leaders (2pp). Read...
Delegates of ICASA had an opportunity today to seek an answer to the big question: when will the clever scientists discover a cure for AIDS and an HIV vaccine? I found myself brave enough today to engage with the “real scientists”. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that I am part of the so-called lay public. But with me, in the same boat, were most of the policy makers in the room, trying their best to keep up with incomprehensible jargon, graphs and randomised control trials.