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Challenge of evaluating a national HIV prevention programme: the case of loveLife, South Africa
  1. Audrey E Pettifor1,
  2. Catherine MacPhail2,
  3. Stefano Bertozzi3,
  4. Helen V Rees2
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
  2. 2Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  3. 3Division of Health Economics and Policy, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Mexico
  1. Correspondence to:
 Audrey Pettifor
 Department of Epidemiology, CB #7435, McGavran-Greenberg Building, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7435; apettif{at}


Although 50% of all new global HIV infections occur among young people, our knowledge to date of the impact of adolescent HIV prevention interventions in developing country settings is limited. During 1999, a national HIV prevention programme for youth, called loveLife, was launched in South Africa. This paper describes the challenges faced in trying to evaluate such a national programme and the types of evidence that could be used to better understand the effect of programmes of national scale. A range of methods were planned to evaluate the programme, including national household surveys and programme monitoring data. Given the urgent need to scale-up programmes in an effort to reduce new HIV infections, a range of evidence should be assessed to measure the effect of large-scale, complex behavioural interventions as an alternative to randomised controlled trials.

  • NAFCI, National Adolescent-Friendly Clinic Initiative
  • RCT, randomised controlled trial
  • STI, sexually transmitted infection
  • HIV
  • adolescents
  • evaluation
  • South Africa

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  • Published Online First 27 February 2007

  • The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) was the primary funder of the evaluation work reported here. AEP, CM and HVR all received salary support from KFF though loveLife for work on the evaluation. KFF is one of the major funders of the loveLife programme.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Adapted from a presentation given at the 16th International STD Conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research, 10–13 July 2005, Amsterdam.

  • Edited by: Sevgi O Aral and James Blanchard