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Identifying Who to Invite

No one organization can completely meet the needs of people living with HIV or prevent HIV transmission. Therefore, stakeholders must be fully engaged in the planning, execution, and monitoring of stigma reduction programs in the response to HIV.

All entities deal with their own internal biases, learned behaviors, and/or non-inclusive policies and therefore should be engaged in conversations around breaking down stigma. This includes the health department and allied government agencies, community-based organizations, community advocates, persons living with HIV, private sector entities, priority populations, and others who may be engaged in any part of the HIV response.

In planning for the Stigma Conversation, health department planners should do their best to include a robust, diverse set of voices to ensure effective dialogue on this topic and inclusive action items are developed.

Stakeholder Engagement Tools

Before planning the invitation list for the Stigma Conversation, health department planners should think through the number of participants they are able to logistically host and a list of eligible or interested organizations. These participants can be instrumental in the action planning phase and help promote change.

While developing the stakeholder engagement list, organizers can use the below tool in the development of the list.


Engaging the Community

Community engagement is a general term used for methods where members of the public work with decision makers to better policies or programs. Community engagement is not meant to be a “tick off the box” activity in program implementation, in which community is invited to participate but are not fully integrated into program planning and implementation. Community engagement can greatly improve programming to ensure it meets the needs of those you are trying to serve. It also can make interventions easier and more effective for health department staff with community leaders facilitating the process.

Engaging the community should focus on:

  • Inclusivity in planning with relevant stakeholders. It is important to engage with communities who are representative of those most in need;
  • Transparency in process of planning, designing, and making decisions;
  • Evaluation through collecting feedback and actively working to incorporate suggestions into programming; and
  • Opportunity ensuring that members of the community know such opportunities exist for them to partake in and share their voices.

More information can be found here.

When looking to engage the community in the implementation of the Stigma Conversation, health departments should think through:

  • Who from the community am I trying to engage in discussions around stigma and discrimination?
  • How can I reach out to them?
  • How am I including people who may not normally come to these conversations or may be critical of the services we are providing?
  • How can I create an effective platform for community members to share their feedback and experience?
  • What is the reputation of the health department in the local community? (may want to define or specify community(ies))

Additional resources on coalition building and engagement with the community can be found here and here