(Re)politicising and (re)positioning prevention: community mobilisations and AIDS prevention in the new AIDS era

  • Imara Ajani Rolston
Keywords: citizenship, community organising, HIV/AIDS, political determinants


An increasing focus on the relationship between AIDS prevalence and socio-economic inequality signals the need for a revaluation of the role of “politics” and “power” in AIDS prevention. This revaluation bears great significance when considering the future trajectories of the AIDS prevention efforts that target highly marginalised populations with high prevalence rates. An emphasis on intersecting forms of inequality has direct implications for the future of AIDS prevention practice. This study explores the experiences of participants, facilitators and local stakeholders applying the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Community Capacity Enhancement-Community Conversations (CCE-CC) approach to AIDS prevention in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It uses the political narrative analysis of life histories and semi-structured interviews as a means to interrogate the lived experiences of local actors participating in or influenced by this popularised form of community mobilisation used throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Findings suggest the need for a more explicit and intentional valuation for the intersection between the social and political determinants of health in programmes that use community mobilisation as prevention. They also signal a need to critically re-evaluate “community mobilisation” as an AIDS prevention tradition. Intersecting social and political power dynamics play a significant role in both opening up and constraining community mobilisation efforts. This paper proposes the need for a pedagogical turn to “deep organising” and “participatory forms of democracy”, as a necessary frontier for programmes working with highly marginalised populations with high prevalence rates. Programmes need to more explicitly support, protect, and advocate for the ability of affected communities to engage in political processes, discourse and long-term organising.

Keywords: citizenship, community organising, HIV/AIDS, political determinants


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445