Key Populations

MEASURE Evaluation 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.

In all countries and all settings, certain groups face disproportionate risk for HIV infection and onward transmission. Even in countries with low HIV prevalence rates, men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and transgender persons—also termed “key populations”—are consistently at greater risk. 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.

To learn how this work is continuing after the MEASURE Evaluation project, please visit Data for Impact.

In part, social stigma, gender-based violence, and discriminatory policies—including criminalization of the lifestyles of key populations—hinder their access to care and treatment. In addition, these groups are hard to reach with health interventions and behavior change interventions because they are often mobile and “hidden.” The need is to uncover HIV transmission networks and settings, using methods based on sound epidemiologic science and appropriate technology that lead to effective, ethical, and evidence-informed prevention strategies.

In its goal to combat HIV/AIDS, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other global health stakeholders have prioritized reaching key populations with a comprehensive package of services. For these programs to be effective, reliable data is essential. 

MEASURE Evaluation, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 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 was a leader in programmatic mapping and data collection methods, and developed the 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 developed 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 helped 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 method 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.

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Filed under: HIV/AIDS , Key Populations
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