Research Blog—New Initiative to Build HIV Prevention Evaluation Capacity of Community-Based Organizations and Healthcare Centers
Led by Drs. Gregory Phillips II and George J. Greene in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University, the Center for the Evaluation of HIV Prevention Programs in Chicago was recently funded by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). In funding this project, CDPH became one of the first health departments in the U.S. to support a university-based collaboration to oversee evaluation efforts of its funded HIV prevention projects. The Center is a collaboration involving:
- The IMPACT Program
- The Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology for Drug Abuse and Sexual Risk Behavior at NU, and
- The AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
Chicago Epidemiological Overview
As of 2012, there were 22,344 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Chicago. Although cases have dropped over the past decade, the city continues to have significantly higher rates of infection than the overall U.S. At the end of 2013, Chicago’s HIV prevalence rate was three times higher than the national average.
HIV Prevention Projects
In order to stop the spread of HIV in Chicago and increase access to care, CDPH issued a call for proposals in 2014 to support HIV prevention interventions across the city. The goal of this funding was to work directly with communities affected by HIV to implement best public health practices for prevention and treatment of HIV. Organizations could be funded under one or more of the following categories:
- Prevention with Positives – CDC-Supported High-Impact Prevention Interventions
- Prevention with Positives – Innovative or Locally Developed Interventions
- Prevention with Negatives – Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Demonstration Projects
- Prevention with Negatives – Comprehensive Services to High-Risk Negatives
- Prevention with Negatives – CDC-Supported High-Impact Prevention Interventions
In addition to funding 20 projects across the city, CDPH funded a university-based evaluation center to work with the sites and CDPH administrators. The goals for the center are to: a) support evaluation efforts; b) build capacity for sites to monitor and evaluate their own projects; and c) share evaluation findings and best practices.
To achieve these goals, the Center for the Evaluation of HIV Prevention Programs in Chicago has adopted an Empowerment Evaluation (EE) approach . This approach aims to increase organizational capacity to plan, implement, and evaluate their programs. Increasing evaluation capacity improves the likelihood the projects will achieve their desired outcomes. Previous use of EE has been limited to evaluating individual programs or to evaluation of several sites implementing the same intervention. In contrast, the Center’s use of EE represents one of the first instances in which this method has been applied to a diverse set of interventions across multiple settings. Guided by the EE approach, this project will identify the best interventions at reducing HIV in high-risk communities, and assess the impact that this set of interventions has on HIV incidence in Chicago.
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 Fetterman, D. M., & Wandersman, A. (Eds.). (2005). Empowerment evaluation principles in practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.