Operational Research with and for key populations

Service user in Kyrgyzstan reads brochure about methadon. Photo credit: Ruslan Myatiyev

Operational Research to improve our programme

In the first phase of the programme (2011 – 2015) Bridging the Gaps has conducted operational research in five of the sixteen programme countries: Kenya, Ukraine, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan and Costa Rica. Local teams conducted the studies in close collaboration with country partner organisations and stakeholders. The results were used to shape the programme for the current second phase (2016- 2020). Also in the second phase research is conducted that builds on the outcomes of these previous findings.

Kenya: Reaching key populations and improving their access to HIV services

The operational research in Kenya identified good practices and lessons learned related to reaching underserved key populations with STI/HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Based on interviews with 135 key population members and experts, this study identifies strategies to improve access to these services. Findings indicate that Bridging the Gaps has effectively reached out to key populations in various ways. The study shows that it is essential to:

  • Reach those currently not accessing services, by building trust with communities of key populations and better utilising their social networks.
  • Continue sensitisation of health care providers to help decrease stigmatisation of and discrimination against key populations.

Read the research report: Reaching key populations and improving their access to HIV services in Kenya

Ukraine: Better access to services for adolescents who use drugs

In Ukraine, operational research explored the barriers to access and the adherence to HIV prevention programmes of young people who use drugs,. Based on interviews with 85 young people who use drugs and 24 experts, the report provides three main recommendations:

  • More capacity building is required among service providers to address stigmatisation and discrimination.
  • Prevention programmes in prisons are in high demand among youth, and improved links with prevention programmes are required after release.
  • Governmental bodies and nongovernmental organisations should share responsibilities within a national strategy to address these issues.

Read the research report: Better access to services for adolescents who use drugs in Ukraine

Vietnam: Promoting safe sex and empowerment among sex workers

The research in Vietnam explored the experiences of 85 Vietnamese sex workers who participated in peer-led harm reduction programmes. It shows that:

  • The community-based model is a very promising approach for mobilising and empowering sex workers, providing social support and strengthening their skills to negotiate safe sex.
  • The community-based organisation model can be the vector of the design of nationwide interventions.
  • Ongoing monitoring and evaluation would provide stronger evidence to lobby the Vietnamese government and relevant organisations to support the model.

Read the research report: Promoting safe sex and empowerment among sex workers in Vietnam

Kyrgyzstan: Engaging underserved key populations

The research conducted in Kyrgyzstan explored how to best engage and motivate key populations to participate in HIV prevention programmes. Based on 440 interviews with key population members, the study highlights the crucial role of outreach workers and provides recommendations for improving outreach work to engage underserved key populations more effectively. The study shows that:

• More adequate wages and opportunities for professional development are needed to motivate outreach workers and prevent high turnover.
• Strengthening outreach workers’ communication and counselling skills will increase the quality of their work, resulting in higher coverage of vulnerable groups and more effective HIV prevention programmes.

Read the research report: Engaging underserved key populations in Kyrgyzstan: what works?

Costa Rica: Advocacy for LGBT Rights

The study conducted in Costa Rica shows the outcomes of the advocacy work of CIPAC to improve access to health services for LGBT people. In total, 48 key documents were analysed and 112 interviews were conducted. The findings indicate that:

  • CIPAC has contributed to changing policies and attitudes.
  • It is imperative to continue working with health workers, to reduce prejudices associated with sexual diversity.

Read the research report: Advocacy for LGBT Rights in Costa Rica

For more information about our operational research work, please contact us.