In all countries and all settings, key populations face disproportionate risk for HIV infection and onward transmission. Even in countries with low HIV prevalence rates, certain populations are consistently at greater risk. Those so-called “key” populations include men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and transgender individuals. Although there is general agreement that the epidemic often is concentrated among these groups, health interventions and health policies have lagged in effectively addressing their needs for prevention, care, and treatment.
In part, social stigma, gender-based violence, and discriminatory policies, including criminalization of the lifestyle of key populations, hinders their access to care and treatment. In addition, these groups are harder to reach with health interventions and behavior change communications as they are more mobile and often “hidden.” There is a need for methods based on sound epidemiologic science that use technology appropriate to the local setting to uncover local transmission networks in a way that leads to effective, ethical, and evidence-based prevention.
In its goal to reach an AIDS-free generation, PEPFAR and other global health stakeholders have prioritized reaching these populations with a comprehensive package of services. In order to be effective, reliable data to inform programming is essential. MEASURE Evaluation has long been a thought leader on that score.
MEASURE Evaluation has worked for more than a decade with ministries of health and global partners to improve how data is collected and used to improve prevention services for key populations and link them to care when needed. MEASURE Evaluation is a leader in programmatic mapping and data collection methodologies, and is the developer of PLACE (Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts), which addresses the challenge of how to identify and tailor prevention programs to local epidemics and particular populations.
MEASURE Evaluation develops guidelines, tools, study protocols, indicators, and survey instruments to measure the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of key populations, their geographic footprint, and disease prevalence – all of which are essential to developing effective interventions for these groups and informing health policy and decision making to address barriers to care and treatment.
MEASURE Evaluation helps identify the needs of local epidemics through:
- Coordinating global programmatic mapping guidance in collaboration with international stakeholders such as UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
- Utilizing and improving the PLACE methodology to identify and tailor prevention programs based on where key populations are found within communities.
- Contributing to the global guidance on HIV surveillance for key populations in support of national health information systems.
- Designing geographic information system resources for identifying and mapping data related to key populations.
- Building in-country capacity for monitoring and evaluation of key population programs through training and participation in research.