Out of the 2,08,638 HIV positive people living in India, over 50 % belong to the five southern states of India (Source: NACO).
The Avahan India AIDS Initiative, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) focuses on HIV prevention among key population (female sex workers, men having sex with men, transgender people and people who inject drugs). The programme has worked in six States (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland) of India that had recorded high HIV prevalence. This strategic investment has been in India since 2003 and is one of the world’s largest HIV prevention program for key populations. Over a decade (2003- 2013) and two phases (Avahan I and Avahan II), the programme has achieved tremendous success by obviating 600,000 new infections and reversing the HIV infection trends in the six high prevalent states.
In 2014, BMGF chose Swasti to lead the third phase of the Avahan Initiative. The aim of this phase is to sustain the HIV prevention impact achieved through earlier phases of Avahan. The current programme will focus on the 5 high prevalent southern states in India- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. It will provide services to about 200,000 vulnerable people through 95 community based organisations. The program is directed towards achieving its two major priorities: - (i) At an individual level, reducing vulnerabilities to HIV (which affect risks) and (ii) Strengthening Community Organizations to make them robust and sustainable. The programme is has four pillars that are mutually reinforcing. While the first three focuses on the individual (and eco-system), the last one focuses on the Organization (agency). The four pillars are:
The initiative seeks to ensure that the Avahan communities will be empowered to enjoy their rights as citizens, accessing services and support with dignity, and have substantially reduced their vulnerability to HIV, thereby certifying that the investment made has had a significant differential impact.