It is our duty to provide the highest quality care, services, and support to all people living with HIV. Data helps us do this by providing insight into what is working and what needs to be changed to improve outcomes along the HIV cascade of care.
Data-driven programs, such as Baylor College of Medicine-Children’s Foundation Malawi’s Tingathe Outreach Program, are essential in the fight against HIV. Tingathe’s monitoring & evaluation and research departments work hand-in-hand to provide the highest quality services and most cost-effective strategies to support patients and providers along the HIV cascade.
At AIDS 2018, Tingathe presented on how they use data to inform the program. Tingathe implemented six HIV case identification strategies over a 6-week period in Malawi coupled with an intense evaluation system to monitor the effectiveness of the different strategies. The team created a data feedback loop that provided weekly performance reports, which facilitated real-time program adjustments. Evidence and lessons learned from the Tingathe program can be used by other implementers to enhance HIV programming.
In addition to informing programming, data is essential to activism and can be used to produce evidence to advocate policymakers and evoke change. I was inspired by the evidence-based advocacy I witnessed at AIDS 2018 and saw firsthand how effective use of data can encourage action.