To ensure that HIV prevention community planning is accomplished in a participatory manner, CDC requires that all CPGs address the principles of HIV prevention community planning as stated in its supplemental Guidance for HIV Prevention Community Planning. The first of the fifteen principles recommended by CDC states the following:
HIV prevention community planning reflects an open, candid, and participatory process in which differences in cultural and ethnic background, perspectives, and experiences are essential and valued.
Participatory planning for HIV prevention is designed to secure a broad range of perspectives, build consensus, and mobilize resources to make decisions about HIV prevention programs. The participation of Latinos in HIV Prevention Community Planning is crucial to identifying effective prevention interventions for Latinos. Given this reality, Latino communities must take three crucial steps in becoming part of territorial, local, state, and federal responses to HIV transmission.
The first step is to provide more local expertise to support prevention programs that consider the special characteristics, needs and preferences of the communities these programs are designed to reach. The second step is to assist in the development sign of Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plans, which require multifaceted input from communities affected by HIV, including those experiencing disproportionate rates of infection and those at disproportionate risk. The third step is to change behavioral norms. The strategy of changing risk-taking behaviors is more likely to be successful if people are involved in the initiation and promotion of safer behaviors.
How Latino communities can participate in
HIV prevention planning:
- Provide local expertise to support
prevention programs that consider the
special characteristics, needs, and
preferences of the communities these
programs are designed to reach.
- Assist in the development of
Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plans,
which require multifaceted input from
communities affected by HIV;
including those experiencing
disproportionate rates of infection, as
well as those at disproportionate risk.
- Change behavioral norms.
Participatory planning for HIV prevention requires both balance and integration of perspectives such as epidemiologic information, programmatic experience, and perspectives from affected communities, including Latinos. HIV prevention programs developed without this collaboration are unlikely to be successful in preventing the transmission of HIV infection or in garnering the necessary public support for effective implementation. Latinos at risk for HIV infection and living with HIV/AIDS should play a key role in identifying prevention needs not adequately being met by existing programs and planning for needed services that are culturally appropriate (CDC, 1998).
A CPG can be carefully constituted in terms of membership, but if Latinos at risk for HIV infection and Latinos living with HIV/AIDS do not have parity, inclusion, and representation (PIR) and participate actively and fully – attend, speak, listen, and are heard – then being “balanced on paper” will have little impact in the HIV Prevention Community Planning process (NCLR, 1994). Some CPGs have found it difficult to recruit such individuals – or to retain them once selected – because they may not find the planning group a comfortable environment.
It is imperative that CPGs demonstrate to Latinos that their involvement will make a difference. If, for example, a Latino member is encouraged to provide the unique perspective of his/her population, and shown that others will listen to what is said, then participation will appear important. If, on the other hand, it appears that membership will be largely passive or reactive, then participation will not seem worthwhile. Current CPG members can be important in dispelling these concerns for potential Latino members. Latinos are likely to consider CPG participation worthwhile if they believe it will lead to a better understanding of their community’s needs, and, ultimately, to an equitable response to Latino needs within the HIV prevention system. However, when Latino members believe that priorities have already been set, or that the overall CPG will not be sensitive to the needs of their communities, they may conclude that participation is not worthwhile.
The community planning process can provide opportunities for personal and professional growth, including: training and practical experience through testifying, chairing a committee, facilitating a meeting, public speaking, conducting media relations, performing research and analysis, and developing materials. It can also provide an environment in which prevention can be discussed openly. Community planning facilitates access to information and facts, which in turn may be widely disseminated to local Latino communities. The inclusion of Latino members may increase the likelihood that the HIV/AIDS-related information will be provided in a culturally- and linguistically-appropriate manner.
|Often those who most need
to be heard [in the
process] are those least
likely to participate.
Often those who most need to be heard are those least likely to participate. Examples of such unheard voices may include persons with limited experience of working in large forums, persons already infected with HIV, and persons from culturally different backgrounds. The first of many challenges for the CPG is to understand these differences. The second challenge is to integrate Latinos into the group. Despite the best of intentions, diversity can create stumbling blocks for a CPG in three key areas:
- Process – Latinos may think about and act upon projects and tasks differently. There may be marked differences in decision-making styles, timeframes, and methods for planning and acting.
- Language – in addition to the potential of Spanish being a first or second language, various Latino subgroups communicate with each other in different, unique ways, using particular words and figures of speech to express themselves.
- Etiquette – Latinos have certain norms for acceptable and unacceptable behavior, particularly when conflicts arise. These may differ from the norms of other members of a CPG.
Latino members, like members of other ethnic/racial minority communities, may lack prior experience and therefore, may not initially have the capacity to participate fully in the planning process. As such, the planning effort, to fully benefit from the community’s involvement, should undertake efforts such as group training members in decision-making and should make provisions to allow for active participation. Attention to parity and an orientation to community planning will result in Latino members having the capacity to participate fully, thus providing a balanced and accurate reflection of community HIV prevention needs.
Membership in the CPG can provide other benefits. Certainly, one of the most valuable benefits of planning group involvement is the opportunity to learn more about the local community and networks with dedicated colleagues. While the process can be difficult, the information and understanding gained should prove useful for everyone involved. Keeping this in mind can help make the challenges worth overcoming.
Go to Barriers and Challenges