Raising the Bars: Supporting Community Mobilization and Outreach to Facilitate Access to the HIV Care Continuum

By Lucy Slater October 21, 2014

NASTAD’s Global Program builds the organizational, programmatic and human resource capacity of regional/state public sector AIDS program counterparts around the world. The HIV Care Continuum provides a tool to measure progress toward stronger outcomes, and helps move closer toward achieving an AIDS-free generation. NASTAD’s work strengthens the HIV Care Continuum through strong partnerships and by providing targeted training, technical assistance and supportive supervision.

In this series of blog posts, we provide a snapshot of how we are supporting locally designed strategies to improve outcomes in the countries where we work. The previous posts in this series can found below:

Part IV: Supporting Community Mobilization and Outreach to Facilitate Access to the HIV Care Continuum

Community outreach and mobilization in Botswana.

In many resource-constrained settings, people living with HIV learn of their diagnosis late in the course of infection, hindering the effectiveness of HIV treatment. In order to improve the health outcomes of people with HIV, UNAIDS/WHO has empowered ministries of health to develop and implement proactive, creative, and comprehensive approaches to community mobilization and outreach to ensure that people living with HIV are diagnosed early and are engaged at each stage of the HIV Care Continuum.

One approach that has proven to be effective in community mobilization and engagement in HIV/AIDS is the Community Capacity Enhancement Programme (CCEP). Through the program, large groups of community members participate in guided conversations about HIV/AIDS, its impact on the local community, and how individual attitudes and behaviors influence the spread of the disease. These community gatherings facilitate a dialogue about the underlying causes of the disease, including risk behaviors, stigma, and gender issues. Through this facilitated, conversational process, individuals are provided with the knowledge and tools to combat the spread of the disease within their own communities.

In Botswana, NASTAD has supported the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development (MLG&RD) and the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) to implement CCEP in order to promote community engagement around HIV transmission, prevention, and treatment. NASTAD organized a south-to-south study tour for MLG and NACA officials to visit and learn from Ethiopia, where CCEP was being implemented with great success, so that Batswana officials could observe CCEP in action and learn from the experience of their colleagues in Ethiopia.

In follow-up to this experiential planning visit, NASTAD peers in the U.S. and Ethiopia provided technical assistance to NACA for the development of the Botswana Framework and Operational Guidelines for Community Capacity Enhancement through Community Conversations (CCE-CC). Drawing upon the defined framework, NASTAD then assisted MLG&RD in managing, adapting, and implementing the CCEP at the district level. Specifically, NASTAD supported adaptation of the curriculum and development of training methods; assisted implementation of comprehensive training of district level master trainers and community level facilitators; and provided mentoring during implementation to support and assure high-quality outcomes. NASTAD continues to provide ongoing support in all aspects of CCEP in two model districts, in order to demonstrate effective methods for implementation and scale-up.

Today, the CCEP district level trainers (150) and community level facilitators (90) that NASTAD mentored and guided are leading the intervention in all of Botswana’s 30 districts. These trainers and facilitators have been empowered to engage with their communities to take responsibility for their health and livelihoods, to discuss the local impact of the HIV epidemic, and to develop locally designed initiatives and strategies to strengthen and expand linkage to the HIV Care Continuum.

If you are interested in learning more about how NASTAD Global works to strengthen the HIV Care Continuum in all of the countries where we work, please contact Lucy Slater.

Visit NASTAD.org/global to learn more about the NASTAD Global Program.

Gen Meredith, Associate Director, Global Program, NASTAD, Habtamu Girma, Senior Manager, Global Program, NASTAD and Anna Carroll, Senior Associate, Global Program, NASTAD, also contributed to the development of this post.