A special edition of the African Journal of AIDS Research was successfully launched by HEARD at the recent International AIDS Conference in Durban.
Themed: “Fast Tracking HIV Prevention: Scientific Advances and Implementation Challenges”, the special issue includes contributions by international specialists on how the HIV prevention response in the East and Southern African region should be shaped going forward and translates recent developments in science into guiding action that will advance prevention in the new health and development framework.
Guest editors, HEARD’s Executive Director, Professor Nana Poku, and Research Director, Dr Kaymarlin Govender, cited the importance of knowing where new infections were occurring and the modes of transmission to advance our understanding of the epidemic dynamic and to develop socially inclusive HIV programming.
The 11 papers in this issue were centralised on the key message that although the overall arsenal in the fight against HIV and AIDS is limited, a radical approach in its use is required if the desired outcomes are to be achieved. Additionally, the pursuit of a “quick-fix”,which is often biomedical to prevent HIV, must take into account that HIV is a socio-culturally induced crisis and, as such, a variety of measures are needed at the same time to appeal to different people, groups and circumstances.
Authors’ distinct perspectives on HIV prevention raise the argument that the success of prevention is tied up in complex ways with people’s diverse life situations, with property, kinship, belief systems, gender relations and livelihoods. The fact that the prevention programming has only produced marginal successes demonstrates that ‘one size does not fit all’.
No single modality works, nor does it work everywhere. Context matters! The local cultural, political and material circumstances will influence the content, implementation and ultimately success of any particular programme.