MIPA Report and Action Plan: A case study from the Victorian AIDS Council
This case study demonstrates the theory of change working in practice. Through their engagement with their communities and alignment with the sector, the Victorian AIDS Council was able to achieve increased effectiveness, increased efficiency and stronger partnerships – all of which, led to better outcomes for their communities.
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has a long history of working with and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) communities and people living with or affected by HIV. Established in 1983, as a community response to early concerns about the HIV epidemic, VAC has remained embedded in the community and has remained committed to developing and delivering services by impacted communities for impacted communities.
This engagement of people living with and affected by HIV in the response to the epidemic has long been considered best practice. This idea was first voiced by people living with HIV in Denver in the same year VAC was founded, and was formalised at the 1994 Paris AIDS Summit, when 42 countries agreed to support a greater involvement of people living with HIV at all levels, particularly through creating supportive political, legal and social environments.1 This declaration has since evolved to the term ‘meaningful involvement of people living with and affected by HIV’, shortened to MIPA. MIPA is about ensuring that the communities most affected by HIV are actively involved in decision-making and in implementing all aspects of the HIV response.
In recognition of the critical role that the engagement of people living with and affected by HIV plays in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of AIDS Councils work, VAC conducted a formal review of the application of the MIPA standards across the organisation. The review was conducted by VAC staff representatives and community representatives, and resulted in a report and action plan.
By placing the dual goals of the wellbeing of people living with HIV and ending HIV at the heart of the policy response to their MIPA audit process, VAC has exemplified its commitment to diversity of engagement with ALL people living with HIV.
VAC’s MIPA Action Plan has resulted in increased participation by, and leadership of, people living with and affected by HIV in the organisation and its activities (peer leadership). For example, the number of staff and volunteers who are living with HIV has increased across the organisation, including in the areas of alcohol and drug peer education and support, HIV home care and HIV peer support. The Action Plan also resulted in the expansion of VAC’s Community HIV Peer Support Program in partnership with Victoria’s three largest tertiary hospitals for HIV.
VAC’s application of the MIPA standards has also reinforced their credibility in the sector and strengthened their partnerships with peer-based organisations, including Living Positive Victoria, Positive Women and Straight Arrows (alignment). This has resulted in a number of joint initiatives, including:
- creating and funding a regular peer drop-in time at the VAC Positive Living Centre
- jointly developing a peer-led HIV Self- Management & Peer Support initiative with Living Positive Victoria, drawing on the Stanford Chronic Condition Self-Management Program
- delivering a joint health promotion program that features people living with HIV, which targets early HIV treatment initiation and addresses HIV stigma.
By facilitating the participation and leadership of people living with and affected by HIV in the organisation (peer leadership), VAC have ensured the organisation and its activities are relevant and accountable to HIV-affected communities. This increases the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation’s activities, and subsequently amplifies their contribution to the goal of improving the health and wellbeing for people living with HIV.
Case Study Theory of Change
People living with HIV have improved health and wellbeing