Journal Article

Translating HIV/AIDS research findings into policy: Lessons from a case study of ‘the Mwanza trial’

The scale and severity of the impact of the global HIV/AIDSpandemic on low-income countries, mainly those in sub-SaharanAfrica, is almost unimaginable to people in high-income countries.There is a particularly pressing need to understand better howto ensure the translation into policy and practice of importantresearch findings in HIV/AIDS prevention and care in countriesthreatened by fast spreading HIV epidemics. The purpose of thispaper is to review the findings and implications of a policyanalysis case study of an HIV/AIDS clinical trial that has beensuccessful in influencing HIV prevention policy relevant tolow-income countries, in order to identify illustrative lessonsfor HIV/AIDS researchers in the future. The case study soughtto detail the interaction between researchers and policy-makersfor this particular case study to ascertain detailed analysisby these two groups on the interaction between research andpolicy.The major findings of the policy analysis case study were thatpolicy shift was a cumulative but non-linear process, with theMwanza trial placing a crucial role in both boosting and confirmingexisting policy movements. Researchers and policy-makers heldsimilar longitudinal views of the process and political environment.Key moments of communication tended to involve personal contact.The important role played by people and organizations who couldwork in both the research and policy communities was often mentionedas crucial in enabling research relevant policy shifts.Researchers may absorb themselves in the technicalities of theirstudy without considering their role in pursuing the wider policyimplications. The impact of research on policy must be an integralelement of every stage of the research process. The case studyillustrates the need to take a contextual view of the interactionbetween research and policy, and understand how changing politicalcontexts affect receptivity to research outcomes. This willincrease the likelihood of research findings having an impacton policy.The review reflects the authors’ experiences of workingfor organizations in non-governmental organization, bilateraldevelopment agency and academic settings.