Contribution of the anti HIV/AIDS community conversation programs in preventing and controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS
AbstractBackground: HIV/AIDS has now been around for about three and half decades since first diagnosed in 1981. If we wish to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS effectively and sustainably, we need to design strategies that help mobilizing communities at large. Anti-HIV/AIDS Community Conversation (CC) Programs are part of community mobilization activities introduced for the purpose of preventing and controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Objectives: The main objective of this study was to examine the contribution of these programs focusing on those implemented in Adama.
Methods: Data were collected through key informant interviews (held with 3 CC Program coordinators and 2 CC group facilitators), Likert-type rating scale (questionnaire) administered to a sample of 200 participants (half of them CC program participants and the remaining half non-CC program participants), one focus group discussion consisting of nine discussants working as facilitators of CC groups, and (researchers), and attendance of 3 sessions of CC program meetings. Qualitative and quantitative data were thematically organized and then descriptively analyzed. Attempts were also made to compare groups using an independent sample t-test.
Results: It was observed that the CC programs were in Adama Town nearly for 6 years and there were, until the date of data collection for this research, about 10 CC groups composed of CSWs, PLHIV, daily laborers, taxi cleaners, and parking lot workers. Findings indicated that participation in CC programs has promoted desirable HIV/AIDS-related behaviors (awareness about HIV/AIDS, VCT use, safe sexual practice, and non-stigmatizing and non-discriminatory behavior) challenged some harmful and encouraged useful practices. Opportunities for ‘experience sharing’, ‘members’ cohesiveness’, and ‘self- disclosure’ were amongst the major factors for the success of the CC programs. However, evidences also suggested that a number of technical, professional and budgetary constraints were affecting the implementation of these programs.
Conclusion and recommendations: The findings of this study generally suggested that the CC programs implemented so far in Adama appeared to make contributions to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and, hence, need to be scaled up. Suggestions were given as to how to improve and scale up these approaches so as to address the growing needs in the country for intervention strategies to quell the spread of the virus.