KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), a major epicenter of the South African HIV epidemic, has large informal settlements where thousands of people live. The settlements are often underserved by municipal services and lack accessible health care. Given high rates of HIV, there is a critical need to assess the successes and challenges of implementing HIV prevention and treatment in this context. Stepping Stones is a widely used life-skills training intervention focused on curbing gender-based violence and reducing HIV risk. The program addresses issues such as communication about HIV, relationship skills, and assertiveness. The manual-based curriculum encourages participants to engage in critical reflection through role-playing and group dialogue. Previous evaluations of Stepping Stones in South Africa found significant reductions in intimate partner violence and herpes simplex virus-2, and improvements in couple communication and negotiation. Under Project SOAR, the Population Council and the MatCH Research Unit of the University of the Witwatersrand conducted program evaluations in 18 selected informal settlements in KZN. This brief focuses on the experiences, challenges, successes, and perceived effects of implementing (and scaling up) Stepping Stones in the informal settlement setting.
Milford, Cecilia, M. Mtshali, Mags Beksinska, and Julie Pulerwitz. 2019. "Implementing and scaling-up Stepping Stones in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Lessons from working in informal settlements," Results brief. Washington, DC: Population Council.
Supporting Operational AIDS Research (Project SOAR)