Improved Monitoring of the Key Population Cascade: The Need for Use of Customized Indicators

What is the problem?

Specialized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) frequently provide testing and prevention services for key populations (KPs). However, HIV care and treatment are typically only accessible via government facilities. NGOs, then, act as the mechanism to link KPs to HIV testing and treatment services. Existing monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks do not enable NGOs to measure and report these linkage services. As a result, it is difficult to track progress toward epidemic control among key populations.

What is the tool?

LINKAGES, which is the largest global project dedicated to key populations, created by PEPFAR and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), introduced a set of standardized, custom indicators for the KP clinical cascade in 2017. These new indicators were created with the intention of improving monitoring of the non-clinical activities conducted by NGOs in their engagement with KPs.

The Peer Navigator Enrollment Frontline Tool (doc) is used at the point of enrollment in services to track client characteristics and history, services rendered, and health outcomes (including reporting on the customized indicators described in the below Customized Indicator Reference Sheet). 

Selection of New Indicators: These indicators were developed because MER indicators often do not represent the full package of services provided by KP programs. The list was generated by key staff from PEPFAR, USAID, and LINKAGES based on common gaps described in MER guidance and input was also requested from selected country teams and civil society partners. These new indicators are:


See the Customized Indicator Reference Sheet (pdf).

Integrating New Indicators into Reporting Process: Minimal effort is required for the data collection required by these indicators. Dara are collected at the NGO/community level as the interventions described are conducted by non-clinical staff. One required input for the implementation of these indicators is the update of data collection forms to include the indicators for the NGOs.

Once proven useful for measuring NGO activities with KPs, larger-scale rollout can occur and these indicators can be integrated into the national reporting system. Minor edits and additions to existing strategic information tools will be needed.

Expected Outcomes: The expected outcomes of using these new indicators include: capturing information about KPs missed by MER indicators, closer monitoring of NGO activities and achievements, and identifying gaps in the services offered to KPs. The use of KP-specific custom indicators will more accurately track the number of KPs living with HIV (KPLHIV) that PEPFAR supports, as well.

Graphs demonstrating the gaps in existing data coverage, which Customized Indicators aim to fill.