Cross-cutting issues: The Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV

Why GIPA?

GIPA stands for the Greater Involvement of People living with HIV. It is a principle, which advocates for the active and meaningful participation of people living with HIV in the design, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all policies and programmes that affect their lives.

The GIPA principle is a rights-based approach, which is recognised as good practice in programming and policy. It acknowledges the universal rights of people living with HIV to self-determination and participation in decisions that affect their lives.

The participation and leadership of people living with HIV in shaping the way we think about HIV and in guiding the work we do increases the quality of our work and contributes to the goals we are trying to achieve.

Benefits of practising GIPA

GIPA has many practical benefits for organisations, programmes, communities, and people living with HIV:

Integrating GIPA in our work

The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) developed the tool ‘From the Ground Up, Documenting GIPA at Community Level’ to assess the extent to which people living with HIV are meaningfully involved in activities at community level.

Understanding how people living with HIV are engaged in their communities is essential for a bottom-up response to HIV. The tool is for groups of people living with HIV – including women living with HIV, young people living with HIV, sex workers living with HIV – to use within their communities.
The tool is currently being pilot tested in three countries and will be launched later this year.

Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) aims to integrate GIPA, as well as the other cross-cutting issues gender and stigma and discrimination, within all our programmes, as they are critical to the outcome and impact of all aspects of the AIDS response. A minimum requirement for integration is to conduct a thorough situation analysis with a focus on GIPA. Based on this, a well-founded decision can be made as to how and to what extent to integrate the cross-cutting issues in a particular project. GIPA, for instance, plays an important role in our work on linking SRHR and HIV, HIV prevention for youth, Treatment as Prevention, and HIV and livelihoods.

GIPA enhances the effectiveness of programmes and policies:

Effective implementation of the GIPA principle will strengthen HIV policies, interventions and programmes. Working together with people living with HIV within programmes ensures that these programmes are grounded in reality, and will improve their credibility, sensitivity, relevance, sustainability, acceptability and effectiveness. Through building programmes on the lived experience and technical knowledge of people living with HIV, human and financial resources are directed towards relevant and realistic interventions and not wasted or misdirected.

GIPA results in better local responses to HIV:

To achieve universal access targets to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support, HIV responses need to be tailored to the community. Involving those directly affected will establish more effective local programmes and policies relevant to the specifics of the community. As a result of working collaboratively and providing space to enable leadership and personal development of people living with HIV, stigma and discrimination can be reduced and the rights of marginalised people living with HIV can be realised.

GIPA promotes self-determination and personal development of people living with HIV:

Effective implementation of GIPA recognises people’s right to self-determination, and respects their abilities to address their own needs. Participation in decision-making can have transformative benefits on the personal development, health and well-being of people living with HIV. Meaningful participation can help to address social isolation and depression, build self-esteem, promote confidence, and benefit the overall health and well-being among people living with HIV. Personal development can have wider beneficial impacts on their communities. For people living with HIV participation can:

  • Create support networks through peer connections;
  • Develop an enabling environment to realise rights;
  • Reduce vulnerabilities;
  • Reduce self-stigma and increase self-esteem;
  • Improve health and treatment adherence;
  • Develop skills and competencies;
  • Increase employability.