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Led by CARE USA/YouthNet and Family Health International (FHI)/YouthNet, this November 2005 meeting brought together 33 researchers, programme implementers, and technical experts to begin building the evidence and knowledge base on the role of communities in preventing HIV and addressing other reproductive health issues for young people. This report summarises challenges, lessons learned from promising projects, knowledge and practice gaps, and recommendations for future practice. It suggests guidelines for community involvement in youth reproductive health and HIV prevention at all stages of a project cycle.

Participants in the consultation were charged with two inter-related tasks:
  • Examine the existing research on the value of community involvement interventions in youth reproductive health (YRH) and HIV programmes, the gaps in empirical evidence, and suggest ways to build on and strengthen impact research and programme evaluation of YRH/HIV programmes that involve communities; and,
  • Examine the state-of-the art of YRH/HIV programmes with substantial community involvement interventions, including promising practices and emerging issues that require more experimentation and documentation, and suggest ways to expand the knowledge base and practices related to effective YRH/HIV programmes that involve communities.
As a result of this meeting, participants generally agreed that future research and programme efforts should focus on:
  • Developing conceptual frameworks that more clearly define the relationships between community involvement and RH and other programme outcomes.
  • Defining standardised yet flexible indicators of the impact of community involvement.
  • Ensuring strategic community participation at critical points throughout the life of the project. Strategic participation in the context of working with youth implies more conscious youth-adult partnerships, and specific strategies which may be required to include marginalised youth in communities.
  • Conducting additional research and rigourous programme evaluation which are critical to strengthen the evidence base and address knowledge gaps regarding the role of community involvement in youth reproductive health and HIV prevention.
  • Improving programme/process documentation about community involvement in youth reproductive health/HIV projects.
  • Furthering interagency collaboration and donor support of process and evaluation documentation.
YouthNet is a global programme of Family Health International to improve reproductive health and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among people 10 to 24 years old. Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, YouthNet conducts research, disseminates information, improves services, and strengthens policies and programmes related to the reproductive health and HIV/AIDS-prevention needs and rights of young people around the world.
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