STRIVE 2014 Annual Meeting, participants tour Hillbrow

STRIVE 2014 Annual Meeting

24 June 2014
Annie Holmes

Halfway along the consortium’s six-year span, what key narratives emerge from STRIVE’s multi-sectoral research collaborations?

Partners gathered in Johannesburg in May for rich deliberations on this question. We noted that:

  • in the context of the evolving political landscape, we must revisit the big picture
  • AIDS exceptionalism is coming to an end, paricularly as we lose the Millennium Development Goals’ specific HIV focus
  • most national AIDS budgets will be consumed by ART, so we need innovative approaches and arguments for structural prevention interventions
  • advances in biomedical interventions will only achieve their potential benefits if we address the structural barriers to their uptake and use

As meeting host and director of host organisation Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI), Helen Rees gave an opening presentation. Her analysis juxtaposed HIV epidemiology and the dynamics of social injustice and economic exclusion, laying out a path for STRIVE thinking and focus in future.

STRIVE’s new working groups provided the focus for practical planning at the meeting:

  • Transactional Sex and HIV
  • Development Synergies and Opportunities for Co-financing
  • Gender Norms, Violence and HIV
  • Structural Factors and Biomedical Prevention
  • Alcohol Marketing, Youth and HIV

These groups were framed around priorities emerging from STRIVE research and analysis to date. For example, work on gender norms and violence builds on the momentum of a January 2013 STRIVE workshop on social norms.

The working group structure serves the consortium on many levels, helping STRIVE to achieve our objectives in capacity building, research and research uptake. The working groups are designed to:

  • create more opportunities for shared leadership and exposure for partner groups, decentralising planning and accountability for STRIVE-related outcomes
  • facilitate deeper cross-fertilisation of ideas and methodologies across STRIVE members
  • ensure that STRIVE yields fundamental insights across specific, focused themes 
  • consolidate recommendations for further research, intervention design and scale-up and policy

Each year, STRIVE meets in a different partner country, to introduce partners to conditions and action on the ground. A gallery of photographs gives a glimpse of our tour of the Hillbrow Health Precinct, the inner-city area where Wits RHI is based. (Remember to click on each image to read the captions.) Mobile clinics and a series of formerly derelict buildings offer services to key groups, including adolescents and sex workers, among a largely migrant population. Nearby, South Africa’s Constitutional Court is located within a former apartheid prison, maintained today as a monument to injustice overcome.