HIV/AIDS prevention initiative in India

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation designed a holistic HIV/AIDS prevention programme for six of Indian states with 83 percent of the country’s HIV infected population.


Source: News Tonight

Avahan, an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was implemented in 2003 with the aim of addressing the HIV/AIDS concern in India. Although the Government of India has established National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and introduced comprehensive strategies such as National AIDS Control Programme to realise the goal of HIV prevention and control among the high risk populations, Avahan aims to bridge the gaps in existing initiatives targeted at high risk populations, including female sex workers and their clients, homosexual men, transgender people (known as hijra) and drug users.

The success of Avahan can be attributed to its flexible working design that allows effective community participation by peer educators. As a part of its preventive strategy, Avahan established clinics to provide free diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). There are provisions for mobile STI clinics as well. Further, free condoms for sex workers and needle and syringe exchange for drug users are promoted by Avahan. In addition, effective community mobilisation and structural interventions are initiated to address peripheral factors relating to HIV such as stigma, violence, medical infrastructure, mobility, etc.

The programme works closely with the Government of India to avoid duplication of efforts and to maximise the HIV prevention coverage in the country. Eventually, the programme is envisioned to be handed over to the government and the community. Avahan signed a MoU with the NACO in 2009 to trigger this process. In the year 2012 the process will be completed.

This case study was published in March 2012.

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