On June 29, 2010, the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cohosted the second in a series of debates on emerging issues in the global response to HIV. In an era when development aid is under heavy pressure and the dynamics of the pandemic are still changing, it is increasingly imperative that governments, civil society organizations, and other partners have the best evidence and knowledge to maximize development dollars and achieve results. The debate series was created with this in mind, designed to spark debate and advance discussion about thorny issues for the HIV community. The World Bank’s Global Development Learning Network video conferencing and webbased technologies allowed country teams in Africa and other partners from across the globe to participate in real time in the debate, which took place in Washington, DC. Additional information about the debate series can be found at http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/hivandaids/brief/debate-series-emerging-issues-in-todays-hiv-response. A video recording of the debate itself can be found at http://www1.worldbank.org/hdnetwork/external/Aids/wbusaid.wmv.
The debate was based on the following proposition: “Behavior change in generalized epidemics has not reduced new HIV infections and is an unwise use of HIV prevention resources.” Given the scarcity of research evidence for behavioral prevention efforts, questions about these efforts are being asked with increased intensity. Do behavioral prevention efforts work? If they do work, what kinds of interventions work best? How many new infections could behavioral interventions avert?