Community engagement in HIV prevention in Asia: going from 'for the community' to 'by the community' – must we wait for more evidence?

Published: December 7, 2009

Community engagement in HIV prevention in Asia: going from ‘for the community’ to ‘by the community’ – must we wait for more evidence?

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The HIV epidemic in Asia is predominantly defined within the marginalised communities and their partners. The term ‘communities’ here refers to people who are living with HIV or injecting-drug users (IDUs), sex workers and clients, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender population and intimate sexual partners, essentially population groups predisposed to higher risks of HIV.1 2 The prevention of HIV among these communities is considered crucial to a successful HIV intervention response in Asia. Although any behaviour change programme must be addressed and tailored to these communities, the rationale, purpose, extent and means of engagement of these communities have often been debated.2–5 However, despite recent rhetoric about the role of the affected communities in the response to HIV, significant involvement of the community has rarely been the mainstream practice. Instead, community involvement has been described as minimalistic, tokenistic and incomplete.

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