Building partnerships to respond to HIV/AIDS: non-governmental organizations and universities

Paiva, Veraa; Ayres, José Ricardob; Buchalla, Cassia Mariac; Hearst, Normand

Building partnerships to respond to HIV/AIDS: non-governmental organizations and universities

Background: In the second decade of the AIDS epidemic in Brazil, public sector and non-governmental organization (NGO) initiatives multiplied, fostered by state AIDS Control Programmes. A growing gap between capacity and a need for programme evaluation and the dissemination of findings from experience in the field, combined with the failure of traditional training approaches to bridge this gap adequately, inspired this non-degree research training programme at a major Brazilian university.

Objectives: To train health professionals and activists working with HIV/AIDS prevention and services to evaluate and disseminate their experiences, and to enable them to multiply this training in their organizations, working in a collaborative process with graduate students and senior researchers.

Procedures: As part of a 9-month research methods course, 52 representatives from NGO and public health services produced research protocols that were reviewed and strengthened through a formal peer review process. Eleven protocols judged to be the best received funding and close mentorship over the next 21 months for their implementation, analysis, and dissemination.

Lessons learned: Participants increased their ability to master and review critically the AIDS literature, to conduct a research protocol and to disseminate the results of their studies. After completion of the 30-month process, many participants were able to present their findings at scientific conferences or publish their results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This model of close NGO–university successful collaboration may inspire other models of research training for those in the front-lines of the fight against the epidemic.

From the aInstitute of Psychology bDepartment of Preventive Medicine, Medical School, and cDepartment of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; and dUniversity of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Correspondence to: Vera Paiva, IPUSP/NEPAIDS, Av. Prof. Mello Moraes 1721, São Paulo, SP 05508-900, Brazil. Tel: +55 11 3091; fax: +55 11 3091 4460; e-mail: veroca@usp.br

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.