Southern Africa: A Decision Tool for the SADC Countries on HIV/AIDS Prevention

The 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are at the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS crisis. National authorities need good evidence to guide decisions about how to make the best use of very limited resources for combating the pandemic. There has been a massive outpouring of research on HIV prevention in the region in recent years but there is a logjam in translating all of this knowledge into practical tools for action. The logjam is due in part to the limited staff capacity for keeping up with all these studies and the piecemeal nature of so many of them.

CIET Trust in Botswana, with the support of the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is designing a computer-assisted decision tool that will model the likely impact of different prevention strategies on the spread of HIV and AIDS in the region. This decision tool is intended to provide planners with a calculated and coordinated mix of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies involving government and civil society on the basis of the most recent evidence.

Cost estimates are crucial to any useful decision tool. Our aim in designing this tool is not to give a single figure “automatic” decision. Trying to move beyond simple cost-effectiveness analysis we hope to provide models that hold the unit cost of preventing one case of HIV next to secondary beneficial and negative effects, each with its own cost considerations.

This effort is synchronized with the ADAPT project which provides training and support to government and NGO planners in conducting and using research to combat HIV and AIDS.

Specific steps to be taken during the project time-frame are:

  • Complete the design and implementation of the computer-supported “estimator” decision tool, including initial software development;
  • Evaluate the decision-tool in at least three southern African countries to improve local relevance and encourage eventual ownership, allowing for the redesign and redevelopment to meet national needs of all SADC members;
  • Provide training and training support to government and NGO planners in the use of this decision aid. 

We also hope this tool will support researchers in SADC countries to develop fundable proposals for their own AIDS prevention policy research.

Expected outcomes include a comprehensive collection of the most recent literature on HIV/AIDS prevention strategies and a decision tool that has been carefully evaluated and put to use in policy and programme decisions in the region.