Making sense of 'evidence' - notes on the discursive politics of research and pro-poor policy making

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What are the assumptions underlying ‘evidence based’ approaches to poverty reduction? 

This paper argues that the discourse of evidence-based policy (EBP) relies too heavily on a technocratic, linear understanding of the policy making process. This limited understanding ignores important discursive frameworks and paradigms that help make evidence meaningful in terms of its potential impact.

The author uses examples from South Africa to illustrate how evidence is used in politically loaded and ideologically compelling ‘policy narratives’.

Understanding the gender disparity in HIV infection across countries in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys

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Comparative study that investigates how AIDS awareness and sexual behaviour affect the gender disparity in HIV infection.

The findings show that the risk for women is 70% higher than their male counterparts of similar sexual behaviour, suggesting that the observed gender disparity cannot be attributed to sexual behaviour. 

Burden of HIV among female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Review of HIV risk amongst FSW compared with that of other women of reproductive age.

The research found that although data characterising HIV risk among female sex workers is scarce, the burden of disease is disproportionately high. The paper argues for further consideration of the legal and policy environments in which sex workers operate. It also advocates actions to address the role of stigma, discrimination, and violence in shaping sex workers’ vulnerability to HIV

UNAIDS guidance note on HIV and sex work

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A human-rights-based approach to promoting universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in the context of adult sex work.

This updated document supports policies and practices that tackle the link between HIV vulnerability and sex work. It provides information for both policy-makers and practitioners on the evidence and approaches advocated by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

The recommendations are based on:

UNAIDS HIV and Social Protection Guidance Note

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Briefing on the potential of social protection schemes to improve HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

UNAIDS argues for the importance of social protection as an integral part of the global response to the HIV epidemic. The strengths of social protection lie in its capacity to address the structural drivers of HIV at the same time as targeting its impact on communities, households and individuals directly.

The report features case studies from:

Adolescent girls' agency - Maggie Bangser

What are the most effective ways to build the capacity of young women to address vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy and violence?

This webinar provides a platform for participants to share strategies across four overarching themes:

Realist randomised controlled trials: Evaluating complex public health interventions

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Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) as a vehicle through which to explore complex social phenomena.

Operationalising structural programming for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment

Principles, examples and evidence to answer the big question: How do we put structural approaches into practice?

In a presentation at the 2012 AIDS Conference, James Hargreaves addresses the three key barriers to effective structural programming:

Transcriptions: HIV, science and the social

A new online forum opens up debate at the critical intersection of HIV/AIDS, global health and social science.

Transcriptions was launched recently as part of Somatosphere, a collaborative website combining medical anthropology, science and technology studies, cultural psychiatry, psychology and bioethics. 


Young people aged 15 to 24 years accounted for an estimated 40% of all new HIV infections among adults worldwide in 2009. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are more than 5 million young people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. Prevention efforts must tackle the upstream factors that make adolescents vulnerable to HIV.

STRIVE brings together a strong portfolio of research on adolescents and HIV. Projects pose questions such as: