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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Social Interventions in HIV and AIDS (PGSP11305)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHIV/AIDS is a global pandemic that affects individuals, families, and communities across the world, and has profound social and economic implications. Despite advances in treatment, HIV/AIDS continues to present challenges to the health and well-being of those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly in resource-poor countries. While prevention of HIV infection remains crucial to the control of the epidemic globally, care and social support for the infected and affected is equally vital. This entails carefully planned methods of intervention, integrated with the involvement of civil society and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Social work has been in the forefront of the AIDS epidemic from the outset, providing support and leadership, which are vital in offsetting the impact of stigma and discrimination and ensuring basic human rights. This course will aim to develop a deeper understanding of social interventions with individuals, families and communities affected by HIV/AIDS, examine successful HIV/AIDS intervention strategies, explore strategies and barriers in involving civil society and people living with HIV in designing and managing HIV/AIDS programmes. Particular attention will be paid to developing a human rights based approach to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.
Course description Outline Content

1. Introduction - HIV as an issue of development

In this session, we will introduce the course, describe the impact HIV/AIDS on diverse populations, examine the link between HIV, poverty and development, and explore the importance of developing rights based interventions in HIV to address stigma and discrimination. The session will also include a short film relevant to the course.

2. HIV/AIDS - A global overview and national and international responses to the HIV epidemic.

The session is intended to provide an overview of HIV/AIDS globally, incidence and prevalence of HIV across different regions and populations, emerging trends in the HIV prevention and treatment, and examine the national and international responses (policy and practice) to the HIV epidemic.

3. Integrating gender into HIV/AIDS programmes

HIV/AIDS has brought gender to the forefront of intervention strategies. Gender plays a central role in determining an individual's vulnerability to infection, his or her ability to access care, support or treatment, and the ability to cope when infected or affected. Cultural norms, practices and beliefs prevalent in many societies assign women and girls to a lesser position which invariably constrains their ability to negotiate safer sex or access appropriate services. This session will explore some of these issues and challenges and analyse the centrality of integrating gender in HIV/AIDS programmes.

4. Risk, Vulnerability and Rights-based approaches to HIV/AIDS Interventions

HIV thrives in conditions of powerlessness, poverty, inequality, exploitation and social exclusion. The risk of HIV infection and its impact feeds on violations of human rights. A number of UN policy guidelines and other research evidence emphasise the importance of human rights in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic, which has reversed the developmental milestones that some of the developing countries have gained. Violations of human rights not only fuel the epidemic by increasing people's vulnerability to infection, but more so people living with HIV and AIDS can be subjected to various forms of discrimination and ill-treatment; this is more so in relation to women, children, asylum seekers and men who have sex with men. This session will critically explore some of these issues and ways in which interventions can be designed in the light of a case study - They Call Me 'You are AIDS'.

5. Developing interventions for gay men living with HIV

Despite enormous advances in care, prevention and treatment, HIV continues to burden gay, bisexual and older people disproportionately. Widespread societal stigma and discrimination keep these communities on the margins of society. Drawing on innovative community-based HIV interventions, this session will explore and critically examine some of the key issues in interventions with gay, bisexual and older people and the challenges and dilemmas practitioners face in combating stigma and promote a positive approach to living with HIV.

6. HIV Interventions with children and young people

Around the world, millions of children have been infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. It is not only threatening their physical and emotional well-being, it is also destroying their families and depriving them of love and care and leaving them orphans. Families where parents are living with HIV, children have no choice but to care for their sick parents. HIV stigma and discrimination often keep them on the margins of society and destroy a child's right to education. Drawing on interventions with children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, this session will explore and critically examine some of the dynamics and challenges of working with children, their parents and other professionals and examine some of the dilemmas around ethics of care, protection, and right to education of children living with HIV.

7. The Antiretroviral Era in Northern Nigeria - the politics of expanding treatment in sub-Saharan Africa

The last decade has seen an enormous expansion of HIV treatment across sub-Saharan Africa. At first only available to wealthy elites, antiretroviral therapies became accessible to millions of new patients in just a few years. This session takes Nigeria as a case study in the scale-up of HIV treatment. Firstly, the expansion itself, with its considerable logistical and financial demands, is considered. Then, based on original empirical research, the experience of living with HIV in the early years of the 'ARV era' are discussed. In particular, the changing nature of suffering, and the new kinds living arrangements and romantic relationships that emerge as people rebuild their lives after a shaming, stigmatising HIV diagnosis are explored.

8. HIV Interventions with African Populations

HIV/AIDS is a major public health concern in many parts of Africa and reports indicate the enormous damage done by HIV within certain communities. While targeted and sustained interventions at different levels have begun to show a change in the direction of the epidemic, huge challenges remain ahead for scaling up the HIV prevention and treatment efforts. This also includes working with people who have migrated to other countries including the UK. Latest public health reports indicate that there are over 25, 000 black Africans living with HIV in the UK and accessing care, with a further 23% estimated to be undiagnosed. There are a number of HIV projects in the UK that works solely with black African population in promoting access to HIV care and treatment and other sexual health services. Drawing on practice/experience and research evidence, this session will explore some of the key issues and challenges in working with these communities and the barriers individuals from African communities face in accessing sexual health services in the UK.

9. Faith based approaches in HIV care and treatment

Since the emergence of HIV as a major public health concern across the world, faith based organisaitons (FBOs) have played a huge role in reaching out to people living with HIV and AIDS. Many FBOs have established links in different communities through their long standing charity work, education and other humanitarian efforts. This enables them to play a key role in supporting and caring for individuals and families affected by HIV. However, this can also be fraught with hierarchies of power and dogmatic principles which can be a barrier to developing sound awareness progrmmes and effective intervention strategies. This session will examine some of these issues and explore ways in which FBOs can play a central role in HIV prevention and mitigating stigma and discrimination with love, compassion and acceptance.

10. Evaluating HIV and AIDS interventions

HIV poses a number of challenges for practice, not least because it raises stigma and discrimination. Prevention strategies and interventions demand a lot of time and commitment if these have to be successful. However, how do we know whether an intervention is effective, what evidence can be drawn on in support of an intervention, how can we develop evidence, what are the challenges in developing evidence about what works in the area of HIV. Drawing on evaluations of a number of interventions in HIV/AIDS, this session will explore some of the key issues in developing evidence about what works in HIV interventions and the challenges faced by practitioners, researchers and policy makers in implementing effective HIV interventions strategies.

c. Student Learning Experience

The course is hands-on taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops. The weekly sessions will typically consist of a one hour lecture (focussing on key themes of the week's topic and the core reading provided) followed by a one hour seminar/workshop and where appropriate student presentations. One of the unique aspects of this course is that it draws on practice-based insights of leading NGOs including a visit to an NGO in the HIV sector.

Each session will cover conceptual and theoretical material related to the topic and substantive use will be made of case studies from a variety of settings and countries and other research and evaluation reports relating the week's topic. It is essential that you read in preparation for all seminars as you will be expected to participate and contribute to wider class discussions. The course is cross-discipline and open to students with backgrounds in social sciences, public health/nursing and the humanities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a critical understanding of the global context of HIV/AIDS incidence and prevalence across different regions and populations
  2. develop a critical understanding of the national and international response and the social and political drivers underpinning the response
  3. have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of different methods and models of social interventions in HIV/AIDS prevention and care
  4. have the ability to evaluate interventions in HIV and AIDS
Reading List
Indicative reading:

- Abrams, E.J., Myer, L., Rosenfield, A., & El-Sadr, W.M. (2007). Prevention of mother-to-child transmission services as a gateway to family-based human immunodeficiency virus care and treatment in resource limited settings: rationale and international experiences. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 197(Suppl 3), S101-S106.

Auerbach, J.D., Hayes, R.J., & Kandathil, S.M. (2006). Overview of effective and promising interventions to prevent HIV infection. In D.A. Ross, B. Dick & J. Ferguson (Eds.), Preventing HIV/AIDS in Young People: A Systematic Review of the Evidence from Developing Countries (pp. 43-78). Geneva: World Health Organization.

- Brown, L., Trujillo. L. and Macintyre, K. (2001) Interventions to Reduce HIV/AIDS Stigma: What Have We Learned? The Population Council Inc., USA. Available at:

- Esu-Williams, E., Schenk, K., Motsepe, J., Geibel, S., & Zulu, A. (2004). Involving young people in the care and support of people living with HIV and AIDS in Zambia (Horizons Final Report). Washington, DC: Population Council.

- Kaplan, L., Tomaszewski, E., & Gorin, S. (2004). Current trends and the future of HIV/AIDS services: A social work perspective. Health and Social Work, 29 (2).

- Mukherjee, J., & Eustache, F.E. (2007). Community health workers as a cornerstone for integrating HIV and primary healthcare. AIDS Care, 19(Suppl 1), S73-S82.

- Palattiyil, G. (2008). Conceptualising families in HIV/AIDS care: A cross-national perspective and a model for intervention. In: M. Michailidis., S. Fargion., and R. Sanders: Research Synergies in Social Professions; EUSW: European platform for Worldwide Social Work.

- Poindexter, C. (2010) Handbook of HIV and Social Work: Principles, Practice, and Populations, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons.

- Sherman, S.G., German, D., Cheng, Y., Marks, M., & Bailey-Kloche, M. (2006). The evaluation of the JEWEL project: An innovative economic enhancement and HIV prevention intervention study targeting drug using women involved in prostitution. AIDS Care, 18(1), 1-11.

- Smith, M. (2002). Gender, poverty and intergenerational vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Available at:

- Ssewamala, F.M., Alicea, S., Bannon, W.M., Jr., & Ismayilova, L. (2008). A novel economic intervention to reduce HIV risks among school-going AIDS orphans in rural Uganda. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 102-104.

- United Nations Development Programme. (2000). From Values to Action: Integrating Human Rights to HIV/AIDS Strategy. New York, NY: UNDP
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr George Palattiyil
Tel: (0131 6)50 3907
Course secretaryMrs Beth Richardson-Mills
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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