Community Groups Welcome C-Change's Interactive Toolkit
Over 200 community volunteers eagerly opened brightly colored boxes and explored the six innovative and interactive materials inside. They had gathered in five districts for a day-and-a-half orientations on C-Change’s Community Conversation Toolkit for HIV Prevention, and had all been looking forward to getting new materials to support HIV prevention.
Inside each box, they found that and more: a carefully researched set of highly interactive materials designed to stimulate dialogue and centered around simple steps to mobilbize communities around HIV prevention. The materials make use of art work that suits their context and are in local languages—in this case, Lesotho Sesotho. [Read more]
Since 2008, C-Change has been supporting community groups in Lesotho to promote dialogue around HIV prevention. The Community Conversation Toolkit forms part of the project’s exit strategy. All groups and communities, no matter who they are working with and how activities are funded, can continue to use these exciting, interactive materials to continue dialogues around HIV prevention and motivate groups and communities to take action.
C-Change has been providing technical assistance to Lesotho National AIDS Commission (NAC) and local partners to support a “community dialogue program” to address the issue of multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP).
MCP is considered to be the main behavior fueling the spread of HIV in Lesotho. C-Change developed a program, Relationships: Intimacy Without Risk, which includes a facilitator's guide and a training manual. The materials are used by local facilitators to carry out discussion sessions that aim to stimulate deeper dialogue around relationship issues and HIV prevention. Additional tools introduced by C-Change included videos for group discussion and movie nights and games for couples.
The Community Dialogue program is the first of its kind in Lesotho. During the series of conversations with groups of adults spread over 11 weeks, participants reflect on how they can improve their relationships and sexual lives without taking on extra lovers. Over the 11 weeks, people to think about what they are learning and consider making changes in their values, attitudes, and behavior. The conversations help to mobilize and engage communities in conversations that encourage and empower them to address their own concerns with the practice of MCP.
A January 2012 evaluation examined the success of the dialogues in strengthening communication on HIV prevention and the HIV risk of MCP.
Lesotho Multiple Concurrent Partner Program
The UNAIDS Modes of Transmission Study (2008) showed that the key mode of sexual transmission of HIV in Lesotho relates to the widespread practice of multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP). The report noted that sexual relationships by both married and unmarried adults will contribute to 65 percent of all new infections in Lesotho in the next 12 months.
To address this issue, C-Change developed the Lesotho Multiple Concurrent Partner (MCP) Program, which includes behavioral research, media awareness, and community mobilization. Launched in February 2009, it is designed to address the risks involved with MCP and other issues related to intergenerational relationships, transactional sex, and gender norms. The program is a partnership with CARE-Lesotho, Phela Communication and Health Institute, and national and local NGOs.
The program uses a combination of behavioral and social change communication interventions. An umbrella media effort organized under the regional OneLove campaign worked to increase awareness of the risks related to MCP among adults ages 18–50 and spark public discussions. Training materials and a community program featured tools, stories, and exercises that helped groups to carry out community-level discussions and explore issues related to relationships.
Research that informs the progam
C-Change partner Social Surveys designed and carried out qualitative research in 2008 that provided a clear picture of the "silent" language of sexuality and MCP. The findings of the research report enhanced the understanding of the cultural context within which MCP occurs in Lesotho and helped inform C-Change interventions.
C-Change also conducted research on the complex behavior patterns of MCP, beginning with a baseline study among Basotho men to measure the levels of concurrency and attitudes leading to concurrency. Information detailed in this research report provided critical guidance as the country expands efforts to address MCP and prevent HIV.