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The Learning Curve #2 - "Establishing community-led monitoring of HIV services — Principles and process"

The Learning Curve #2 - "Establishing community-led monitoring of HIV services — Principles and process"

"Establishing community-led monitoring of HIV services — Principles and process"

This article explains why HIV community-led monitoring is an accountable mechanism for HIV interventions at different levels.
It also highlights the importance of data collection and underlines the challenges that need to be overcome in this process.

HIV community-led monitoring (CLM) is an accountability mechanism for HIV responses at different levels, led and implemented by local community-led organizations of people living with HIV, networks of key populations, other affected groups or other community entities.

These initiatives must be data-driven, always linking community demands with real-world data collected in an appropriate and systematic way by a team of researchers. This team must be able to continuously and diversely collect and interpret data. Diverse here means that both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (surveys) data are equally necessary for the development of these projects. This can be a challenge, as agile researchers versed in different methods are a rare and valuable human capital.

These researchers have the main function of monitoring activities and finding gaps in their services. So, it's not enough just to assemble this team, but it must be valued and heard in decision-making.

Such services have already proven to be efficient and with positive feedback in South African communities (Ritshidze Project/GeorgeTown), mainly demonstrating how a Global support is needed for the most affected communities (PLHIV, Youth, LGBTQ) and creating a user-friendly environment.

The most recent events proved the importance of research well done, COVID-19 showed the value of continuous data collection and quality. The different setting has different needs and contexts, due to this it is important to review constantly the safety of data collectors and other stakeholders.

However, it is important to emphasize how these roles, although important, should be considered: The community should always be the leaders, experts (like researchers) only advisors. Especially considering international collaborations.

Citation: UNAIDS (2021). Establishing community-led monitoring of HIV services — Principles and process. UNAIDS/JC3014E

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Thrust the communities
• Engage first with health services and Policymaking actors
• Formal collaboration with other communities
• Training for data collectors:
                  o Using validated tools
                  o Appropriate methods for each stage and data 
                  o Ensure ethical data collection 
                  o Data security