The Knowledge Network project was launched in 2010 to build evidence on the HIV epidemic by using the data generated by HIV programme implementing organisations in India. This paper describes the implementation of the programme and the strategies adopted to enhance the capacity of individuals to document and publish HIV prevention programme learnings. Further, it discusses the outcomes of the initiative.
A multipronged approach was adopted, where a group of experts were brought together to collaborate with programme implementing organisations, review available data, develop research questions and guide peer-reviewed publications. Further, scientific writing courses were conducted to support individuals from HIV programme implementing organisations as well as educational and government organisations (mentees) to build the documentation capacity of individuals leading programme implementation and current and future researchers. The impact and quality of evidence generated was measured by examining the number of papers published, the number of citations, and the number of papers with at least 10 citations. Additionally, course participants’ responses to open-ended questions in the anonymous course evaluation questionnaires are presented as verbatim quotes.
Overall, 99 papers on HIV programmatic learnings from India were finalised under the programme, of which 95 have been published. In all, 67 papers were co-authored by mentees. Most papers were published in high-impact factor (1 or more) journals and 72% were cited at least once in the literature. The main themes documented include key populations’ HIV risk, HIV risk of general population groups, HIV/STI service delivery models and community mobilisation interventions.
The study demonstrates that an integrated approach, involving partnership, capacity-building and mentorship, can maximise the use of available data and build the evidence base on HIV programmatic learnings. The capacity-building model adopted in the programme can be used to build scientific writing and documentation capacity in other public health programmes that are implemented at scale.