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HIV threatens the survival of many civil-society organisations (CSOs) in Africa. While we know the range of potential costs to such groups, we lack a detailed picture of the extent of the impact. This article highlights important findings from exploratory research in Malawi. Respondents perceived that overall performance in the four CSOs studied declined by an average 20 per cent because they were working in a context of high HIV prevalence. Yet the CSOs’ workplace response to this threat was very limited, and they remain highly vulnerable to future impact. We consider why the CSOs have not been more proactive, and we recommend that donor policy should help partners to respond to the epidemic and enable them to remain effective.

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