ASCI aims to inform policy and programming by strengthening the evidence base and addressing critical gaps in knowledge across several areas:
The principal research activity for this cluster is to catalogue how armies are responding to the challenges of HIV/AIDS. The overall research approach is to compile information on programmes and policies with respect to HIV/AIDS across a large number of armies, principally in Africa but also in Central America and South-East Asia. The research in this thematic cluster is framed by an analysis of the drivers of HIV/AIDS prevalence and the determinants of effective prevention and testing policy. It builds upon the existing evidence base for patterns and levels of HIV prevalence in national armed forces. Relevant research on HIV/AIDS and the military in Russia will also be conducted as part of Thematic cluster 3. The overall objective of this cluster is to demonstrate that many armies have succeeded in responding effectively to the threat posed by HIV/AIDS but substantial improvements are possible.
The overall aim of the research in the second thematic cluster is to extract clear evidence-based policy and programme recommendations for how HIV/AIDS initiatives should be designed for humanitarian crisis and post-conflict transitions. To date, post-conflict and reconstruction programmes have not taken HIV/AIDS sufficiently into account. A careful specification of the drivers of the epidemic in specific situations will allow these interventions to be better designed, sequenced and implemented, and will lead to a new perspective and set of actionable recommendations on the design and implementation of post-conflict transition and reconstruction efforts. Similarly, the framework for examining effective HIV/AIDS policies should enable interventions to be assessed and improved.
The general objectives for the research in this thematic cluster include empirically testing the hypothesis that HIV/AIDS contributes to state fragility at different levels and investigating the implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes and policies in countries that are classified as fragile states. Given that there are now sufficient indicators for state effectiveness and fragility, it is possible to draw very general lessons about the possible, and demonstrated, relationship between HIV/AIDS and state fragility. It is likely that such a relationship exists only under certain specific conditions, and research activities within this cluster will allow for at least a preliminary specification of those conditions, while also exploring why it is that states have shown greater- than-expected resilience. In addition, the impact of high-prevalence HIV/AIDS epidemics on small states, which already have very limited human resources and capabilities, will receive special attention through targeted research. The second main exercise of cluster three is to examine how best to design and implement HIV/AIDS policies and programmes in fragile states.
ASCI’s research team has identified a number of important cross-cutting issues, whereby gender has been prioritised as an important cross-cutting theme when considering the relation between HIV/AIDS, conflict and security. Although gender is an important theme in each of the research clusters, additional gender-focused research is being carried out. Research on gender in relation to HIV/AIDS will contribute to a better understanding of the extent and impact of sexual violence in situations associated with the military, conflict and crisis. In addition, research aims to identify the socio-cultural traits of masculinity that are linked to the military and the drivers of HIV prevalence. Apart from gender, other cross-cutting themes to be studied are HIV/AIDS in relation to security sector reform (SSR) programmes and policies, the impact of HIV/AIDS on the police and global media coverage of HIV/AIDS as a security issue.