PLHIV Stigma Index Academy in Eastern and Southern Africa Region

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The PLHIV Stigma Index is a community-led research program that aims to document the experiences of PLHIV regarding HIV-related stigma and discrimination. It has been recognized as a unique evidence-gathering process with a key focus on building the capacity of PLHIV community and fostering partnerships with national stakeholders including key population groups, civil society partners, and national health authorities.

With the new 2021 – 2026 Global AIDS Strategy adoption as the umbrella of the global response to eliminate AIDS and its strong focus on social enablers targets including HIV-related stigma and discrimination, it is imperative to build a strategic approach to eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination. In the fight against stigma and discrimination, the data collected with the Stigma Index is key to informing policy and HIV program development worldwide.

The International Partnership of the PLHIV Stigma Index has set up the Academy program to increase the technical skills of PLHIV community in the implementation of the PLHIV Stigma Index, to ensure active and meaningful engagement in all phases of implementation. More specifically, the academy focuses on increasing knowledge of PLHIV community members to conduct research using the Stigma Index standardized methodology, as well as on ensuring inclusivity of PLHIV in all their diversity, gender-focus, and action-oriented process throughout the implementation.

The first PLHIV Stigma Index Academy in ESA region was conducted on 10 – 18 November 2021 as a virtual course. The participants were recruited through an open call and selected based on their technical criteria, diverse geographical representation, and gender diversity. The selection process itself was conducted by a regional selection panel comprised of representatives from the regional PLHIV network, regional WLHIV network, and UNAIDS Regional Support Team for ESA region. Ten participants were selected to join the first PLHIV Stigma Index Academy (click here to read more about the participants).

The curriculum of the academy has been designed utilizing adult learning methodologies, which use the background experiences of all participants in their roles as PLHIV activists and community leaders in their learning process. The curriculum of the academy focuses on 6 key topics and was delivered through 6 daily sessions of 210 minutes, spread over 2 consecutive weeks.

Day 1: The big picture of HIV-related stigma and discrimination
Day 2: Introduction to the PLHIV Stigma Index methodology
Day 3: Collecting data
Day 4: Using and presenting data
Day 5: Movement building
Day 6: Technical support planning

At the end of the academy, a dedicated session was conducted to discuss how best to continue the post-academy learning process of the participants. Further learning processes will include opportunities for an internship in the PLHIV Stigma Index technical support provision team and deep-dive sessions on a wide range of technical topics, such as research protocol development and data analysis.