Effective public service delivery through innovative governance knowledge exchange
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HIV/AIDS prevention initiative in India
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Avahan-HIV/AIDS prevention initiative in India. Photo credit: News Tonight
Avahan-HIV/AIDS prevention initiative in India. Photo credit: News Tonight
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.

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 Controld 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, their clients, same-sex relations between men, transgenders known as hijra and injecting drug users.

The success of Avahan intervention can be attributed to its flexible working design that allows effective community participation in the form of the provision of peer educators. As a part of its preventive strategy, Avahan established clinics to provide free diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Infections to high risk individuals. There are provisions for mobile STI clinics as well. Further, free condoms for sex workers and needle and syringe exchange for injecting drug users are promoted by Avahan. In addition, an effective community mobilisation and structural interventions are initiated to addresses distal determinants of HIV risk such as stigma, violence, legal environment, medical infrastructure, mobility, migration.

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.

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