Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Communities of practice: HIV/AIDS prevention practices

Yesterday, a colleague had organised an interesting meeting with Achieng Renish Ngube, a Kenyan HIV/AIDS activist, who figures in a book called Mijn status is positief by Annemie Struyf and Lieve Blancquaert. Two things struck me in relation to communities of practice/learning.

The first thing is that she mentioned that all the information my colleague forwarded to her about HIV/AIDS contributed to her change from patient/victim to activist. So knowing more about HIV/AIDS changed her attitude.

The second thing is about being at the cutting-edge of practice. We asked her to comment on the HIV/AIDS educational materials that IICD partners in Ghana produced (a comic depicting HIV/AIDS by monsters). She felt the content would probably be very appropriate for youth, but that the second part of the message is missing, being the message about the availability of antiretroviral drugs. And this could be important to stimulate people to go for testing. It clicked with the story of a friend who went back to Ethiopia. While we were there till 2000, testing was very uncommon, but now lots of people in his area (Ambo) had gone for tests, since they had free access to antoretroviral drugs, in case they would test positive.

It seems that being linked to a community of practice is very important to be at the cutting edge of practice, since the scenery is changing rapidly. It would be a pity if all these NGOs and agencies continue with the famous ABC (abstain, be faithful and condoms) message while there is an important opportunity to change people attitude towards testing. (apparently there are more drugs available in Kenya than people who have tested positive and qualify for it). Huge needs to speed up collective learning.

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