Responding to Changes in HIV Policy: Updating and Enhancing the Families Matter! Curriculum
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Responding to Changes in HIV Policy: Updating and Enhancing the Families Matter! Curriculum

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  • Alternative Title:
    Health Educ J
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    The past decade has seen changes in US HIV policy in sub-Saharan Africa in response to a new Administration and far-reaching technical, scientific and programmatic developments. These include: dramatically increased access to life-saving ART and related services; the roll-out of voluntary medical male circumcision; and growing sensitivity to gender-based violence, including child sexual abuse, and to its role in increasing vulnerability to HIV. The Families Matter! Program (FMP) is an intervention for parents and caregivers of 9–12 year-olds that promotes effective parent-child communication about sexuality and sexual risk reduction. FMP was adapted from a US evidence-based intervention in 2003–4 and is now implemented in eight African countries. In 2012–13, the FMP curriculum was updated and enhanced to respond to new US Government priorities.


    Enhancements to the curriculum drew on the results of Violence Against Children surveys, on a review of existing literature, on feedback from the field on the existing curriculum, and on stories written by young people across Africa for scriptwriting competitions.


    We updated FMP with scientific content and stronger linkages to services. We also intensified our focus on structural determinants of risk. This contextualisation of sexual risk-taking within structural constraints led us to place greater emphasis on gendered vulnerability and the diverse pressures children face, and to intensify our situation-based pedagogical approach, drawing on the authentic youth-authored narratives.


    We describe these changes as an illustration of and source of insight into much-needed programmatic adaptation in response to evolving HIV policy.

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