Pitch Programmatic Research: Systematic Evidence Reviews

PITCH – Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV response – is a strategic partnership between Aidsfonds, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs working with those most affected by HIV (people living with HIV, adolescent girls and young women, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who use drugs) in enabling these groups to transform (inter)national HIV responses by strengthening their advocacy skills and capacities and promoting innovative evidence-informed practice. It is hoped that this will enable them to advocate for a more effective response to ensure all people have equal access to sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV-related services. From 2016-2020, PITCH will jointly work towards ending the HIV epidemic in the regions and countries most affected by HIV through an inclusive, in-country, in-depth approach to international lobby and advocacy. PITCH currently operates at global and regional levels, and in nine specific countries (see PITCH infographic in annex 1).

PITCH Research

The PITCH programme involves diverse research activities. All research projects undertaken within PITCH must comply with all of the following three criteria:

  • The focus of research falls under the PITCH Umbrella Theme: Research that informs effective and sustainable advocacy to ensure equality and equity for KPs and AGYW affected by HIV.
  • The research produces evidence to help validate or adjust the assumptions made in the PITCH Theory of Change (see annex 2).
  • The outputs of the research will be used to inform PITCH advocacy and/or to revise its programmatic approach and advocacy interventions.

Evidence Review Topics and Research Questions

These terms of reference relate to systematic reviews of published and unpublished research in key areas of interest for PITCH. We are commissioning three systematic evidence reviews, taking into account the PITCH global Theory of Change and critical knowledge gaps in the global state of evidence. The geographic scope of all of these reviews is low and middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank.

The three reviews are as follows:

Review 1: Outcomes of HIV Programming for KPs

It is often assumed that improving HIV service access results in improved agency to demand rights. PITCH requires a consultant to i) conduct a systematic review of the scope of outcomes measured in current HIV programming for key populations and ii) provide an analysis on the extent to which the current scope of outcomes in HIV programming includes outcomes on empowerment, inclusion and agency to demand equal rights. The consultant is also required to iii) assess whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the assumption built into the PITCH Theory of Change that improving HIV service access results in improved agency to demand rights, and provide recommendations for future research priorities.

Projected start: April 2018. Deadline for completion: October 2018

Review 2: Capacity to capture evidence and demand for health services/rights

It is often assumed that the more key populations are able to gather evidence and use it effectively, the better they are able to demand relevant services and secure their rights. But various social and structural barriers often mitigate this. PITCH requires a consultant to conduct a systematic evidence review to answer the research questions: Does enhanced capacity to capture evidence lead to increased demand for health services and rights among key populations affected by HIV? And, what types of evidence sharing/ knowledge exchange is needed to increase demand for health services and rights among key populations? Following from this, what are the most immediate recommendations for future primary research?

Projected start: April 2018 Deadline for completion: October 2018

Review 3: Stakeholder engagement Intensified engagement among stakeholders is a key short-term outcome for PITCH.

PITCH requires a consultant to conduct a systematic evidence review to answer the research question: What does meaningful and effective stakeholder engagement entail and does it lead to improved HIV programming for key populations? This review will systematically explore and document both successful and unsuccessful methods for ensuring meaningful and effective stakeholder engagement, including a selection of stakeholders among key populations, people living with HIV, policy makers, clinicians, religious leaders, etc. Findings will be distributed widely to governments, international organisations and activists to ensure best practice and inclusivity in HIV programming and advocacy.

Projected start: latest July 2018 Deadline for completion: February 2019


All three reviews have the same scope:

  • Reviewers will look at all peer-reviewed and grey literature on the chosen area of review.
  • Reviews will focus on evidence relating to research in low and middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank.
  • Reviewers will analyse evidence of promising interventions documented in literature, implementation challenges and opportunities, and gaps in knowledge.


All three reviews will follow a common methodology as follows:

  • The consultants will design a PROSPERO protocol for the systematic review specifying the research question, purpose, search methodology, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the context, primary outcomes, data extraction procedure, risk of bias assessment and the strategy for data synthesis.
  • Following approval of this, the consultants will commence comprehensive database and grey literature searches using the selected search string and emailing stakeholders to identify potential studies for inclusion.
  • Titles and abstracts of potential studies will be screened by the consultant and a second reviewer following the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Where not enough information is available, the full text will be screened.
  • Data from included studies will then be extracted using a data extraction form which will have been designed as part of the study and piloted.
  • A comprehensive risk of bias assessment will be carried out with all included studies.
  • A narrative synthesis and, if applicable, meta-analysis will then be provided of the findings from included studies.


All three reviews have the same output requirements:

  • Registration of the systematic review protocol in PROSPERO.
  • Regular updates on searches and preliminary findings (every two months) to inform PITCH programming.
  • Submission of the full systematic review as a journal article to a high-impact peer reviewed journal.
  • Presentation of research findings to PITCH partners.
  • Development of a non-academic summary report of the findings for use with activists, programmers and other stakeholders listing:
    • Key aims and findings of the review;
    • Proposed research questions for potential follow on studies based on critical gaps in knowledge;
    • Implications for PITCH programming; and
    • Implications for broader HIV programming and advocacy in low- and middle-income countries.

Budget and management

The maximum budget per review is €40,000. The consultants will report to the Senior Advisor: Research and Evaluation, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, who will also review all outputs prior to publication for quality assurance. The funders will be acknowledged in all outputs.

Application process

The deadline for applications is Friday 23rd February 2018.

The application process is the same for all three reviews. If you are interested in one (or more) of the above, please submit one proposal per review containing the following main sections:

  • Review number and title—clarifying which review the proposal relates to.
  • Qualification to undertake the assignment—explaining your/your team’s experience and qualifications in relation to the specific review topic and the general terms of the TOR. Please describe your track record in undertaking high impact, policy-relevant research and knowledge exchange.
  • List of relevant academic and non-academic publications—with links to the abstracts/PDFs where available.
  • Affiliation and access to relevant resources—relevant details if you work at or are affiliated to a recognised research institution and have access to search engines, libraries and networks of people who may provide grey/unpublished data.
  • Human resources—brief bios of all staff working on the assignment, and clear explanation of the roles they will perform (annex to include full CVs for all staff).
  • Budget—total sum requested, and explanation of how this has been costed. Note: the maximum budget per review is €40,000.
  • Proposed schedule—including calculations of days of effort and deadlines according to the template in the downloadable annex.

Applications to be sent in WORD or PDF format by email to Marina Schkot, Support Officer: Knowledge at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance mschkot@aidsalliance.org by Friday 23rd February 2018.


Download Annex 1