The HIV Think Tank (TT) provides a central place for all stakeholders (government, academia, NGOs, donors, community and implementers), under the chairmanship of the National Department of Health (NDoH), to review epidemiological, routine monitoring and economic evidence related to the HIV epidemic, identify priority gaps, and establish consensus on appropriate next steps, including research projects and pilots of new programmes and policies. The TT also thinks proactively about what evidence needs to be created and what pilot programmes need to be implemented to respond to the challenges that will arise three to five years in the future. Seventy-five percent of the funding received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to fund the NHIV TT is reserved for research and/or to fund and evaluate innovative pilot projects designed to test innovative ideas that can support South Africa in achieving the 90- 90-90 targets required to achieve epidemic control.
NHIV TT convened quarterly and delegates tasks to a number of Expert Working Groups (EWG)s tasked with developing either policy briefs or initiating pilot projects. Currently two EWG have been established namely, the HIV Prevention EWG and the Testing and Treatment EWG. These EWGs convene on a monthly/bimonthly basis.
In 2017 the Testing and Treatment EWG established the Unique Identifier and Community Health Worker (CHW) Thematic groups, which are working on contributing to policy briefs. The CHW Thematic group has contributed to the Implementation planning phase of the WBPHCOT Policy by convening task teams to work on the following aspects: M&E Framework for the policy, Good Practices Compendium of CHW work across South Africa, Research on NCD & HIV comorbidities and a harmonisation guideline to assist provinces in implementing the new WBPHCOT Policy.
The Prevention EWG has approved a compelling pilot project which focuses on closing the intention gap of men who express a willingness to access VMMC services but do not follow through on this intention. This pilot project will be implemented in 2018 and funded by the NHIV TT project. The EWG is further working on finalising a HIV Prevention Cascade designed to set prevention targets focusing on HTS, condom use and MMC. This EWG has also established a thematic group focusing on documenting “what works in HIV prevention”.