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.
AIDS Impact 2017
Without youth-friendly services, the battle for adolescent sexual and reproductive health will be lost. Early findings from three of EHPSA’s adolescent research studies, presented at the AIDS Impact Conference in Cape Town (November 13-15, 2017), reflected on this conundrum in different ways.
The Girl Power study in Malawi presented findings from focus group discussions, where young people compared the clinics in the experimental arm of the study to standard care. Four major differences emerged...
Those of you here at ICASA will have noticed the opening statement of many speakers starting as follows: “I stand in solidarity with African key populations, men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women, trans-gender people in all their diversity, adolescents and young people and people living with HIV, in order to end AIDS. “ The growing unity and solidarity among key populations is visible and clearly linked to the difficult situation key populations find themselves in, even here at the ICASA conference in Zimbabwe, where the MSM space was broken down early into the conference.
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.