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Social capital and HIV Competent Communities: The role of community groups in managing HIV/AIDS in rural Zimbabwe

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      Community involvement is increasingly identified as a “critical enabler” of an effective HIV/AIDS response. We explore pathways between community participation and HIV prevention, treatment and impact mitigation in Zimbabwe, reviewing six qualitative studies in Manicaland. These find that community group membership is often (not always) associated with decreased HIV incidence, reduced stigma and improved access to some services, particularly amongst women. Participation in formal community groups (e.g., church or women's groups) and informal local networks (e.g., neighbours, families) provides opportunities for critical dialogue about HIV/AIDS, often facilitating renegotiation of harmful social norms, sharing of previously hidden personal experiences of HIV/AIDS, formulation of positive action plans and solidarity to action them. However, implementation of new plans and insights is constrained by poverty, social uncertainty and poor service delivery. Furthermore, dialogue may have negative effects, spreading false information and entrenching negative norms. The extent that formal groups and informal networks facilitate externally imposed HIV/AIDS interventions varies. They potentially provide vital practical and emotional support, facilitating service access, treatment adherence and AIDS care. However, they may sometimes play a negative role in prevention activities, challenging stereotypes about sexuality or gender. There is an urgent need for greater recognition of the role of indigenous community groups and networks, and the inclusion of “strengthening local responses” as a key element of interventions and policy. Such efforts require great sensitivity. Heavy-handed external interference in complex indigenous relationships risks undermining the localism and bottom-up initiative and activism that might be central to their effectiveness. Cautious efforts might seek to enhance the potentially beneficial effects of groups, especially for women, and limit potentially damaging ones, especially for men. Efforts should be made to facilitate contexts that enable groups to have beneficial effects, through nesting them within wider comprehensive responses, and supporting them through strong partnerships with service providers.

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          Towards an improved investment approach for an effective response to HIV/AIDS.

          Substantial changes are needed to achieve a more targeted and strategic approach to investment in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that will yield long-term dividends. Until now, advocacy for resources has been done on the basis of a commodity approach that encouraged scaling up of numerous strategies in parallel, irrespective of their relative effects. We propose a strategic investment framework that is intended to support better management of national and international HIV/AIDS responses than exists with the present system. Our framework incorporates major efficiency gains through community mobilisation, synergies between programme elements, and benefits of the extension of antiretroviral therapy for prevention of HIV transmission. It proposes three categories of investment, consisting of six basic programmatic activities, interventions that create an enabling environment to achieve maximum effectiveness, and programmatic efforts in other health and development sectors related to HIV/AIDS. The yearly cost of achievement of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support by 2015 is estimated at no less than US$22 billion. Implementation of the new investment framework would avert 12·2 million new HIV infections and 7·4 million deaths from AIDS between 2011 and 2020 compared with continuation of present approaches, and result in 29·4 million life-years gained. The framework is cost effective at $1060 per life-year gained, and the additional investment proposed would be largely offset from savings in treatment costs alone. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

            Author and article information

            [a ] London School of Economics and Political Science, Institute of Social Psychology, Houghton Street, London, UK
            [b ] Biomedical Research and Training Institute, Manicaland Project, Harare, Zimbabwe
            [c ] Department of Health Promotion and Development, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
            [d ] Research Department of Infection & Population Health, Royal Free and UC Medical School, University College, London, UK
            [e ] Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, London, UK
            Author notes
            [* ] Corresponding author. Email: c.campbell@
            AIDS Care
            AIDS Care
            AIDS Care
            Taylor & Francis
            9 June 2013
            June 2013
            : 25
            : Suppl 1
            : S114-S122
            © 2013 The World Bank

            This is an open access article distributed under the Supplemental Terms and Conditions for iOpenAccess articles published in Taylor & Francis journals , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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