Strategic communication and community mobilization
PATH engages individuals and communities to promote healthy behaviors, change attitudes, and improve services
A population’s risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), the care they receive, and their health outcomes are affected by personal and cultural attitudes, norms, and beliefs. To address these factors, PATH engages and mobilizes communities to promote healthy behaviors and reduce stigma, gender inequality, and other norms that contribute to TB and HIV. Our approach encompasses strategies known as behavior change communication; communication for social change; and advocacy, communication, and social mobilization (ACSM). Sometimes, this means providing the right information in the right context. More often, we work to get people talking at the community level and cultivate an environment that supports individuals in making healthy choices. We also conduct monitoring and evaluation so that we know how, and how efficiently, these activities are improving health.
PATH’s efforts are significantly reducing TB and HIV risk and improving services worldwide. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), PATH’s Integrated HIV/AIDS Project (ProVIC) has reached more than 1.53 million people with crucial HIV prevention messages and provided HIV testing to more than half a million people. Our ACSM training package is helping non-
governmental and community groups around the world align their TB prevention and control efforts with national goals. And PATH’s advocacy training led to the launch of the Africa Coalition on Tuberculosis (ACT!), which mobilizes leaders and communities in support of better diagnosis, treatment, and care for people living with TB.
Because gender and health are closely connected, PATH is also working with communities in the DRC, Senegal, and other countries to encourage men and women to reexamine attitudes and behaviors, promote equitable relationships, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
We’re also engaged in global and local advocacy work to encourage continued focus and funding for TB, HIV/AIDS, and addressing gender in support of these goals.
Engaging vulnerable groups to avert new HIV infections
PATH recognizes both that preventing new infections is crucial to reducing the global burden of HIV/AIDS, and that practical, community-based action strengthens these efforts. Through the Arise program, for example, we’ve been supporting international and local partners to use strategic communication and community mobilization to help most-at-risk communities in sub-Saharan Africa and India address prevention head-on: Last year alone, the program reached nearly 50,000 people with community mobilization and outreach activities and provided HIV counseling and testing services to more than 40,000 people. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience, we’ve managed the design and implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention services for injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, female sex workers, HIV-positive women, couples, and pregnant women and their babies. In Senegal, our local Arise partners are using peer education and outreach activities to encourage female sex workers to use condoms and seek testing and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.