Building a Microbicides Advocacy Campaign
The Global Campaign for Microbicides is a broad-based, international coalition initiated in 1998 to build support among policy makers, opinion leaders, and the general public for increased investment into microbicides and other user-controlled HIV prevention methods. The Campaign uses advocacy, policy analysis, and social science research to accelerate product development, facilitate widespread access and use, and protect the needs and interests of users, especially women worldwide.
People cannot demand what they have yet to envision, so one of chief functions of the Global Campaign is to make microbicides a visible possibility, thus catalyzing public demand for new options.
In the U.S., the Campaign's legislative advocacy strategy targets the U.S. Congress and microbicide research funding at the NIH, the CDC and the U.S, Agency for International Development (USAID). The strategy was designed and implemented in collaboration with the Alliance for Microbicide Development and the International Partnership for Microbicides. To date, it has resulted in an increase of tens of millions of dollars at NIH and CDC, and the USAID appropriation for microbicide R&D may rise to $22 million in 2004. The Microbicide Development Act, authorizing federal spending and creating a designated program at the NIH, was introduced with bipartisan support in the Senate in April 2003.
In Canada, women's health and AIDS advocates have been similarly successful in generating increased attention to microbicide research by the Canadian Parliament. The UK/Ireland Campaign for Microbicides, established in 2002, is working on raising awareness in the British Parliament, and has participated in briefing the European Parliament on microbicides.
Because of the vast differences in resources between U.S. and Europe and regions in south Asia, Africa, and Central America, microbicides advocacy in the global South is less focused on mobilizing resources and more on demonstrating demand. This includes creating opportunities for people who will be using microbicides in clinical trials over the next few years to actively participate in the research and development process.
Advocacy organizations in countries like India, Nigeria, and Uganda are forming local networks to articulate policy needs relevant to their national situations. For example, advocates in Kampala recently organized a forum for national parliamentarians and policy makers to discuss the position Uganda should take toward microbicide clinical trials in that country. A community stakeholders meeting in Delhi in October 2002 resulted in a statement of principles on prevention options for women in India.
Because much of the clinical research, particularly the Phase III efficacy trials of microbicides, will take place in highly affected countries, the Global Campaign is working with community organizations, national networks and research institutions to support meaningful community involvement in the design and implementation of these trials. Community involvement is widely recognized as a key component of both scientifically rigorous and ethically sound clinical trials. However, U.S. and European activist models of community involvement may not translate directly into global south settings. To that end, the Global Campaign works with NGO, community-based, and research entities to develop, implement, and document innovative approaches that have worked to get local communities meaningfully involved in the research process.
With nearly 200 worldwide NGO partners to date, the Global Campaign serves as a conduit through which this global demand can be harmonized and collectively articulated at an inescapable volume. Through unified advocacy strategies and a growing body of resources and materials made freely and publicly available to anyone who wants to use them, the Campaign links and amplifies participants' voices. The work of the Campaign is coordinated by its secretariats, housed at NGOs in Washington DC, London and (soon) South Africa. But, in essence, the Campaign is nothing more than a shared idea: that receptive sex partners must have a way to protect themselves that they can control, and that advocates must take responsibility for determining when, how and in what fashion this technology becomes available to all who need it.
For more information: www.global-campaign.org or phone: (202) 454-5048.
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This article was provided by Gay Men's Health Crisis. It is a part of the publication GMHC Treatment Issues. Visit GMHC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.