HIV prevention programmes targeted at communities who are at higher risk from HIV can only be effective if the services they provide are accessible and suitable for the groups they are intended to reach. Yet these communities are often excluded from decisions that affect them. Few donors and HIV institutions include representatives from these groups in discussions about their strategies or in the delivery and evaluation of their HIV programmes.
‘What’s Preventing Prevention?’ aims to give a voice to people who are at higher risk of HIV or of being affected by HIV. These communities play a key role in how HIV spreads and their involvement is vital for an effective and sustainable response to HIV.
A group of sex workers in Cambodia © Eugenie Dolberg for the Alliance
Communities at higher risk are sometimes referred to as ‘key populations’, defined as the groups that are at higher risk of being infected or affected by HIV, who play a key role in how HIV spreads, and whose involvement is vital for an effective and sustainable response to HIV.
Key populations vary according to the local context but are often vulnerable and marginalized. Key populations include groups such as people living with HIV, their partners and families, people who sell or buy sex, men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, orphans and other vulnerable children, migrants and displaced people, and prisoners. For most “key populations”, high risk and vulnerability converge.
On occasions, peer support groups of men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and other communities at higher risk of HIV are closed down for representing criminalised populations. HIV activists from these communities are often harassed and intimidated for providing HIV services with little protection by the authorities.
Through ‘What’s Preventing Prevention?’, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance is supporting advocacy and campaigning programmes and activities by national and community based organisations.
We aim to ensure that communities at higher risk of HIV and people living with HIV participate in programme design and implementation on equal footing with governments.
The campaign enables Alliance Linking Organisations and other organisations to improve their advocacy for a better HIV response at local and national levels.
‘What’s Preventing Prevention?’ is calling on governments to adopt a human rights based response to HIV and introduce national funding policies and mechanisms that value and support community led HIV programmes.