Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

26 September 2011

First Official Mapping Pathways Presentation a Success: Canada keen to adapt project

“It’s not about telling people to go down any one pathway; it’s about providing an array of pathways that are illuminated with a little more analysis with which to shape informed policies and programs.”

Earlier this year, Jim Pickett of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, a Mapping Pathways partner organization, was asked how he and his colleagues would measure success for this initiative. His response was prompt, explaining that the project would be successful if the knowledge and wisdom it brings together is able to provide tools that are usable for the various stakeholders. “So, for example, if here in Chicago I can take these findings to the Chicago Department of Public Health and it can help inform their community planning process around the prioritization of prevention and care dollars. Or, in India you could take the results of our outputs to the Minister of Health in Delhi and say, ‘Here is something to help us help you think about and plan how you’re going to allocate resources or roll out potential programs…or not.’ Maybe a jurisdiction will decide it will not focus on PrEP, and instead will focus on getting more people tested and treated and on doing a better job on getting people condoms. Basically, we want to help create a package of tools that people can then use to actually influence policy and do good programming in their particular context. At the end of the day, and this is the big picture, we want to avert HIV infections. We want less people to become infected and we want more people who are infected to be linked to appropriate care and treatment. And if our project can, in some small way, help create policies and programs that prevent more infections and get more people into care and treatments that are sustainable and appropriate, then I think we are successful.” (Read more of Jim’s wonderful conversation at the Mapping Pathways blog post “Success! Now What?”)

Recently, at a national stakeholder consultation in Ottawa Canada (see footnote), part of this vision for the Mapping Pathways project came true. Pickett was invited to introduce the project and share some preliminary data to a group of 30-40 key stakeholders from the Canadian government, AIDS service organizations, and others interested in new prevention technologies. This was the first official Mapping Pathways presentation since the project began earlier this year. The consultation was designed to get Canada to think how the country will deal with and incorporate the increasing number of prevention tools and strategies that are already available or will become available soon – PrEP, TLC+, and microbicides (read more about these strategies here and the various prevention trials here).

 “Canada has been following new prevention technologies for a long time,” said Pickett. “So now they are watching the science (and what at incredible year of science it’s been!), and there are things that are actionable; expanding treatment is actionable now. PrEP could be considered actionable now. So at this consultation, these folks were asking, ‘What should we do?’, ‘How do we figure this out?’, ‘What tools will we need?’, ‘How is it going to look?’, ‘How do national bodies fit into this strategy?’”

“Just asking these questions is so challenging,” said Pickett. “And Mapping Pathways is in no way saying any country should do something or not. We’re just asking questions, looking at the data, and then presenting what we find in a useful and usable way.” As Pickett put it at the beginning of this project, “It’s not about telling people to go down any one pathway; it’s about providing an array of pathways that are illuminated with a little more analysis with which to shape informed policies and programs.”

While data from the Mapping Pathways project is still being collected and synthesized, Pickett was able to present snapshots from South Africa, the US, and India; including interesting quotes from stakeholders; and general, country-specific perceptions and trends emerging from the surveys and in-depth stakeholder interviews. 

Much to Pickett’s delight, the presentation was enthusiastically received, with the Canadian stakeholders keen to go ahead and create a Canadian version of the Mapping Pathways project. “We haven’t even synthesized the data completely as yet and people are already interested in it and how they can make the project their own!”

Jim Pickett is the Director of Prevention Advocacy and Gay Men's Health at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. He is chair of IRMA (International Rectal Microbicide Advocates), and a member of the Mapping Pathways team.

[1]  Canada Institute of Health Research Meeting, September 16, 2011

[Content that is linked from other sources is for informational purposes and should not construe a Mapping Pathways position.]

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