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John Mutsambi

TB/HIV Care Association - 2015 Fellow

John is a community engagement specialist whose experience spans two decades. He has worked cross-culturally, advocating for the active engagement of communities in HIV prevention research and implementation. He has developed and managed community engagement programmes at clinical trial sites in six countries in eastern and southern Africa. These include the HPTN 035: BufferGel and PRO2000 microbicide study; the HPTN 052: treatment as prevention study in serodiscordant couples; IPM’s Ring Study and a hormonal contraception study, among others. John also contributed to the development and implementation of the HPTN 071 PopART study ongoing in Zambia and South Africa. He has authored several publications on community engagement and holds a master’s in Cultural Anthropology, a bachelor’s in Social Work and a Post-graduate degree in International Research Ethics.

Prevention Gaps and Needs — My view for 2015
There’s a need in South Africa for PrEP awareness among individuals and institutions with decision-making authority. Particularly, sex workers, people who inject drugs and other key populations are in need of PrEP but also need to know about it. We need to work toward gaining acceptability of and creating demand for PrEP while ensuring effective stakeholder engagement in decision-making processes. Increased stakeholder engagement at community level will create a supportive social environment for PrEP uptake.

My Work as a Fellow

  • Petition for approval of PrEP: This petition, calling the South African Medicines Control Council to approve PrEP for all individuals at substantial risk of HIV in South Africa, was developed and led by John Mutsambi and other civil society advocates in South Africa.
  • Blog post: John published the blog “In Their Own Voices: South Africans at high risk of HIV Infection demand access to PrEP” on AVAC’s P-Values Blog, in which he amplified the increasing voices demanding for PrEP in South Africa. He also mapped steps to get there.
  • Give us ARVs so we don’t get HIV: This is an op-ed authored by John Mutsambi together with South African advocates in the Mail & Guardian in November 2015 calling on the South Africa government to make the bold step of rolling out PrEP among specific population groups that are substantial risk of HIV acquisition—such as young women and girls, sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), discordant couples, truckers and people who inject drugs.
  • PrEP FAQ: John developed this PrEP frequently asked questions document to be a living tool to document and help answer questions about PrEP that he heard throughout his engagements with communities.
  • Project poster: This poster is a single-page summary of John’s project that he presented at the end of his Fellowship.
  • Advocates statement on dapivirine ring results: This is a response by South African civil society, including John, to the microbicides dapivirine ring results that were released at CROI 2016.
  • Fellowship summary report: “An enriching immersion into HIV prevention advocacy” is a summary of John’s experience and activities during the Fellowship.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the Fellows Program, or would like to reach out to a Fellow (current or alumni), e-mail us at fellows@avac.org.