Contributing to publishing the paper: Circus monkeys or change agents? Civil society advocacy for HIV/AIDS in adverse policy environments

Curatio International Foundation has contributed to publishing the paper that explores the factors enabling and undermining civil society efforts to advocate for policy reforms relating to HIV/AIDS and illicit drugs in three countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. The paper was published on the world’s leading scientific papers’ source Sciencedirect.com in the rubrics: Social Science and Medicine.

The paper looks at political contexts and explores how the civil society actors’ strengths and weaknesses inhibit or enable advocacy for policy change – issues that are not well understood in relation to specific policy areas such as HIV/AIDS, or particular regions of the world where national policies are believed to be major drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The study is based on in-depth interviews with representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) (n = 49) and national level informants including government and development partners (n = 22).

Development partners and government tend to construct CSOs as service providers rather than advocates. While some advocacy was tolerated by governments, CSO participation in the policy process was, ultimately, perceived to be tokenistic. This was because there are financial interests in maintaining prohibitionist legislation: efforts to change punitive laws directed at the behaviors of minority groups such as injecting drug users have had limited impact.

Read the full paper online or download PDF.

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