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.

13 December 2012

Combining behavioural science and biomedical tools: In conversation with Linda-Gail Bekker

Original content from our Mapping Pathways blog team

"This project is an attempt to be representative of the HIV epidemic around the world, including Africa, which carries the bulk of the burden but is often forgotten when it comes to opinion." 

In the first of this five-part series, Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, a Mapping Pathways partner organisation, speaks about the evolution of the project and the recently-released South Africa guidelines for PrEP in MSM.

MP: Please give us some of your thoughts on the Mapping Pathways project as it has evolved over time.

LGB: A key component of the Mapping Pathways project is its concept of being multi-continent, which imparts depth and relevance. The world is a big place and this project is an attempt to be representative of the HIV epidemic around the world, including Africa, which carries the bulk of the burden but is often forgotten when it comes to opinion!.

The project is a wonderful attempt to gather and document important views from opinion leaders as well as from people in the street around the world on important topics in prevention. This is enhanced by the fact that we are at a very exciting time in HIV prevention, which is quite a volatile, polarised and changing field. Things move at such a rapid pace in this field that sometimes, things done a month ago can quickly be out of date.

We have shared some of our Mapping Pathways data and findings informally at conferences like the Microbicides 2012 (M2012) conference in Sydney and the AIDS 2012 conference in Washington D.C. We are now looking forward to all the data collected being put together in a more formal, structured way. RAND Europe, one of the project partners, is working to create a book that will cover results and analyses of the four methods of data collection used in this project; the Literature Review, online survey, the ExpertLens and stakeholder interviews. It is great that all the sites and partners are contributing to this.

On a personal note, I feel Jim Pickett, Director of Prevention Advocacy and Gay Men's Health at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Mapping Pathways project member, is one of the most charismatic and compelling people I have worked with. His “can-do” attitude, enthusiasm for prevention and vision has been essential for the success of this project, considering its scope and scale spanning three continents. 

MP: Please tell us about the South Africa guidelines that recently came out based on a consensus group that you chaired.

LGB: The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society writes consensus guidelines for clinicians in the country on a variety of topics. I chaired one such consensus group to come up with guidelines for PrEP in MSM in South Africa. These guidelines were written and published earlier this year and are available online.

The rationale is that Truvada is currently available in country and we imagine that some men may wish to use it and clinicians would need guidance as to how to do that safely. The guidelines provide practitioners with a go-to document to enable them to use the drug in a safe and effective way should they have a client who wishes to and can afford to do so.

Stay tuned to the blog as we bring you part two of our conversation with Linda-Gail, where she speaks about vulnerable populations in Africa and the burden of HIV there.

Stay tuned for the Mapping Pathways monograph, coming in early 2013

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