HIV/AIDS prevention: building on community strengths in Ajegunle, Lagos

This paper builds upon field research in Ajegunle, Nigeria, which suggests that effective HIV/AIDS prevention requires a much higher degree of independent community participation. In exploring ways to achieve this, we suggest that assessing community strengths provides positive scope for understanding and utilising a much wider variety of HIV/AIDS responses which have not been previously used in the context of community development. Community-based approaches also encourage a deeper understanding of locally-specific vulnerability issues that surround HIV and AIDS. Such initiatives can be linked to trends that value the knowledge and capacities of neglected local people and build on their resources, including their networks, relationships and trust. However, the connection to, and use of, the resources of international NGOs (INGOs) remain central to success. If an interactive community-based agenda of working with local level resources receives enough acceptance at the higher levels of the INGOs, the results could be very significant. Such international/local agreements, where INGOs seek to work more closely with local community groups and their people on shared agendas, could begin to tackle some of the key structural issues, especially conflict and poverty, that exacerbate HIV/AIDS at the grassroots and are not responsive to purely medical solutions.

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