Whole person HIV services: A social science approach

Alastair Van Heerden, Hilton Humphries, Elvin Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of reviewGlobally, approximately 38.4 million people who are navigating complex lives, are also living with HIV, while HIV incident cases remain high. To improve the effectiveness of HIV prevention and treatment service implementation, we need to understand what drives human behaviour and decision-making around HIV service use. This review highlights current thinking in the social sciences, emphasizing how understanding human behaviour can be leveraged to improve HIV service delivery.Recent findingsThe social sciences offer rich methodologies and theoretical frameworks for investigating how factors synergize to influence human behaviour and decision-making. Social-ecological models, such as the Behavioural Drivers Model (BDM), help us conceptualize and investigate the complexity of people's lives. Multistate and group-based trajectory modelling are useful tools for investigating the longitudinal nature of peoples HIV journeys. Successful HIV responses need to leverage social science approaches to design effective, efficient, and high-quality programmes.SummaryTo improve our HIV response, implementation scientists, interventionists, and public health officials must respond to the context in which people make decisions about their health. Translating biomedical efficacy into real-world effectiveness is not simply finding a way around contextual barriers but rather engaging with the social context in which communities use HIV services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-51
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in HIV and AIDS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • HIV prevention
  • HIV treatment
  • human behaviour
  • implementation science


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