Since the start of the HIV epidemic, community responses have been at the forefront of the response. Following the extraordinary expansion of global resources, the funding of community responses rose to reach at least US$690 million per year in the period 2005–2009. Since then, many civil society organizations (CSOs) have reported a drop in funding. Yet, the need for strong community responses is even more urgent, as shown by their role in reaching the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Fast-Track targets. In the case of anti-retroviral treatment, interventions need to be adopted by most people at risk of HIV in order to have a substantial effect on the prevention of HIV at the population level. This paper reviews the published literature on community responses, funding and effectiveness. Additional funding is certainly needed to increase the coverage of community-based interventions (CBIs), but current evidence on their effectiveness is extremely mixed, which does not provide clear guidance to policy makers. This is especially an issue for adolescent girls and young women in Eastern and Southern Africa, who face extremely high infection risk, but the biomedical prevention tools that have been proven effective for the general population still remain pilot projects for this group. Research is especially needed to isolate the factors affecting the likelihood that interventions targeting this group are consistently successful. Such work could be focused on the community organizations that are currently involved in delivering gender-sensitive interventions.
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