Nearly a decade of funding from major donors has supported exceptional progress in scaling-up comprehensive HIV care, treatment and prevention services in middle-and low-resource countries. Working collaboratively with national leaders and local stakeholders, donor-supported projects have played a vital role in expanding HIV services and strengthening health systems and community-based programs to deliver quality HIV services in these settings. As strides are increasingly made to realize the objectives of donor-supported projects, transitioning responsibility for managing and financing of HIV programming to national authorities and civil society is essential for ensuring sustainability and continued progress in achieving beneficial outcomes for HIV-infected individuals and HIV-affected households. An essential part of donor-supported programming is planning for this transition by building sustainable approaches and exit strategies into project design and implementation from the very beginning.
In 2013, LIFT II conducted a review of promising referral tools and approaches to begin defining sustainable approaches to referral models in varying contexts. This brief report provides recommendations for optimizing the operational sustainability of referral networks as programming and support is transitioned from donor-support projects to local management.