HIV communication is most effective and sustainable when it is designed and implemented locally and tailored to the local context. This requires capacity strengthening at national, subnational, and community levels. Through a review of the published and selected “grey” literature, we examine HIV communication capacity strengthening: definitions, measurements, implementation, and effects. We found limited documentation of HIV communication capacity needs or systematic approaches to address them.
Most HIV communication capacity strengthening to date has focused on building individual competencies to design and manage social and behavior change communication programs through training courses, often coupled with networking opportunities for participants, post-training mentoring, and technical assistance. A few of these efforts have been evaluated through pre- and post-training tests and qualitative interviews with participants and have shown potential for improvement in individual skills and knowledge.
Health communication capacity assessment tools that measure individual and organizational competencies exist, but they have most often been used to identify capacity building needs, not for evaluating capacity strengthening efforts. A new definition of capacity strengthening, grown out of recent efforts to improve effectiveness of international health and development programs, focuses on improving organizational and societal systems that support performance and individual competencies. We propose a holistic model for HIV communication capacity strengthening and call for rigorous documentation and evaluation to determine and scale-up optimal capacity building interventions for strengthening social and behavior change communication for HIV prevention, care, and treatment in developing countries.