Enrique Restoy
Mala Ram
Jane Coombes
Monika Sigrist
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
February 18, 2015

"REAct is based on strong community leadership and South-to South learning exchange principles." - Monika Sigrist and Isobel Fergus

This guide provides an introduction to Rights - Evidence - ACTion (REAct), a secure, information technology (IT)-based system for monitoring and responding to human rights-related barriers in accessing HIV and health services, which is owned and managed by community-based organisations. Created by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, REAct helps respond to these barriers by collecting relevant evidence in order to identify and provide, or refer to, individual emergency support and human rights-based HIV programmes. It is also used to generate evidence for advocacy and future programming.

Many countries acknowledge that people have the right to access quality health care from discrimination. REAct focuses on human rights-related barriers in accessing HIV and health services, as well as other human rights violations, for key populations that are the direct responsibility of the state. Examples may include:

  • Public healthcare providers treating people in a derogatory manner in clinics and hospitals, or denying them HIV prevention or treatment services.
  • Political authorities instigating discriminatory legislation and practices, or failing to respond to allegations of violations of the right to health services.
  • Law enforcement agents using excessive force, arbitrary detention and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.
  • State education system having discriminatory education policies and practices.

The information management tool used in REAct is Martus, developed by the non-profit technology organisation Benetech. Martus is an open source software tool and can be downloaded freely here. Martus is used globally by community-based organisations, human rights workers, lawyers, journalists and others to protect sensitive information and shield the identities of those who report human rights abuses (which include those whose rights have been violated and witnesses).

This guide, which is periodically updated and revised, consists of an introduction and five units. The units provide information on: the principles behind the system; the steps you need to take to set it up; who needs to be involved; what the human rights issues are; how to collect data; using Martus; adapting the system to your context; and how to implement REAct. Each chapter contains: a content list; text and graphics addressing a question about REAct; links to additional resources; suggested workshop session formats; and a unit checklist.

The guide is geared toward organisations wishing to set up and implement REAct. REAct has been designed mainly, but not exclusively, for community-based and civil society organisations that focus on HIV programming and advocacy for key populations. Key populations are defined by the Alliance as groups that are vulnerable to or affected by HIV and AIDS. Key populations vary according to the local context, but are usually marginalised, stigmatised and criminalised - for example, because of their HIV status and sexual or social identities. Considering that their involvement in HIV programming is vital to an effective and sustainable response to HIV, the Alliance field-tested REAct in collaboration with lesbian gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organisations in Uganda in May 2014, and with organisations of people living with HIV (PLWH), sex workers, and LGBT people in Myanmar and Bangladesh in October and November 2014, respectively.

A May 2017 fact sheet [PDF] shows how REAct has been used in countries around the world. For example, it details how REAct helps extend the Alliance's and partners' portfolio of human rights programmes such as: legal services; know your rights; engagement with law enforcement officers and public health care officials; advocacy; programmes to address gender-based violence, gender inequality, and harmful gender norms; and programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination.


English, French, Spanish

Number of Pages: 

39 (English and Spanish); 44 (French)


AIDS Alliance website, November 9 2017; and email from Laura Mundy to The Communication Initiative on November 20 2017. Image caption/credit: Misunderstanding of drug laws hamper Cambodian harm reduction. International HIV/AIDS Alliance