Nora Rosenberg et al’s “The effect of HIV counselling and testing on HIV acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review” finds that despite big investments in HIV counselling and testing, we don’t know much about its impact on prevention. That is because this impact has not been systematically evaluated: only 8 decently-designed studies were found for sub-Saharan Africa. And they show that individual HIV counselling and testing is neither consistently good nor bad for prevention. These important findings come out of a systematic review of the literature on the topic. Systematic reviews are often seen as the “poor relation” of research methods. They don’t bring academic glory. Yet, as argued here before, they produce the most useful evidence for policy makers. And with the advances of natural language processing and text mining techniques, we could automate large parts of the search process to increase our capacity to conduct systematic reviews that inform our work. I, for one, am excited about the future of systematic reviews.
I spoke to several colleagues about Mia Schaefer’s “The new kid” this week. The school-commissioned personal essay describes a 14-year-old’s mixed emotions about having a new baby brother. I thought she did a good job at articulating this. But of course, as the mother, I am biased.
My graph is from SITRA’s “This is how we create a circular economy in Finland” because it is super clear and because SITRA is hosting the World Circular Economy Forum next week. We pointed to the rise of the circular (or sharing) economy, in Horizons, two years ago. When looking at the list of speakers it struck me that all UN professionals engaging in that conversation were environmentalists. Why? There are huge opportunities for “social” practitioners in this space from restructuring service delivery systems, to reducing inequalities, to formalizing invisible economic relations, to fundraising. So I was happy to also see this week that NESTA had selected 8 organizations from the social sector to support via their ShareLab Fund.
My quote this week is from Cate Blanchett’s interview with David Miliband in Town and Country: “Being a mother was, for me, undeniably a central point of connection to the refugee crisis. Learning that more than 10 million of the world’s refugees are children, and then meeting refugee parents in Jordan and Lebanon who had fled to protect the lives and futures of their children—well, that was personally heartbreaking and galvanizing. As a parent I connected with their desire to protect their children and provide them with every possible opportunity in life: a safe home, an education—but most important, a childhood free from the horrors of war.”
And to make you smile at the end of a week full of bad world news, you get this.