What is mainstreaming?

Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS is about change and it starts at the individual level where it must be internalized by the people in the institution. The process of change is from a vertical to a horizontal level. It is about a growing organizational consciousness and culture towards integrating HIV/AIDS .

While there is no universally accepted definition of mainstreaming it is usually understood as a process whereby a sector/organisation analyses how HIV/ AIDS can impact it now and in the future, and subsequently considers how sectoral or organisational policies, decisions and actions might influence the longer-term development of the epidemic and the sector/ organisation. As a result, the organization/sector recognizes the relevance of HIV and AIDS work and takes action to address it internally and externally.

Three key questions guide mainstreaming in both the internal and external spheres :

  • How does HIV/AIDS affect your organization and your work?
  • How to do no harm?
  • How can you contribute to fighting HIV/AIDS by limiting the spread and mitigating the impact of the epidemic?

Types of mainstreaming

The process of mainstreaming is classified into two broad categories which are not mutually exclusive.

1. Internal Mainstreaming is about adapting organizational policy and practice in order to reduce the organisation’s susceptibility to HIV infection and its vulnerability to the impacts of AIDS. The focus is on the internal staff and usually includes:

  • Development of a workplace policy
  • Training of all staff within the office/ workplace
  • Provision of services related to prevention, care and treatment for staff members.

2. External mainstreaming refers to adapting the organization/ department’s core programmes or work in order to take into account the reality of HIV and AIDS. This aspect of mainstreaming seeks to strengthen the organisation’s core business, without changing the focus to health care. This may entail

  • identification of entry points where HIV could be mainstreamed into the ongoing work of the organisation
  • training and sensitization of the outreach workers/staff of the department/ministers
  • inclusion of HIV in the detailed programme planning and implementation of the ministry/department.