Focus on prevention and reduction of HIV/AIDS related risks as the overall goal. Program objectives should focus on key behaviours and conditions that are linked to achieving the goal, such as avoiding unprotected sex and unsafe drug use, delaying the onset of sexual activity, abstinence, non-use of intravenous drugs, and providing inclusive, healthy and protective learning environments, for example through policy implementation, provision of safe water and sanitation, provision of key health services through schools, and genuine school-community partnerships.
Consider the full range of available strategies known to contribute to the program objectives. Some strategies are marginalized because of lack of understanding, political, religious, or cultural issues; for example condom use or needle exchange programs. Gathering all the available evidence from credible sources is important to choosing the most effective and acceptable strategies, and to adapting them wherever possible. Some strategies are used because they are popular, fun, or interesting, but, unless they are also linked to the achievement of the objectives, the value of such approaches for achieving the intended outcome is questionable.
Long term view
Select programs, activities, materials and resources on the basis of an ability to contribute to long term positive outcomes of reducing HIV/AIDS risk among learners and in the school environment. Some approaches may attract media and public attention in the short term, but these may not be the most effective, especially where they are not coordinated with existing strategies. A coordinated series of short term programs linked with longer term outcomes should be given priority over superficially attractive stand alone, one off or quick fix alternatives. While reducing HIV/AIDS related risk needs to be the immediate focus, comprehensive programs can expect to yield benefits well beyond HIV/AIDS.
Research, monitoring and evaluation
Evaluate program objectives, processes, and outcomes using realistic indicators, and allowing enough time for results to be observed.
At the outset, an evaluation plan and monitoring mechanisms should set the stage for measuring the degree to which progress is made towards the objectives over time. Setting objectives that are too ambitious, and indicators that are too difficult to collect or do not accurately reflect what the the program is attempting to change are common problems. Monitoring and evaluation processes need to be appropriate for evaluating knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviours. In general, much more process evaluation than outcome evaluation information is collected, and probably only a fraction of that is reported. Accurately assessing and reporting the extent to which the program was implemented as planned, or adapted appropriately, is equally important as the ultimate outcome - changes among learners.