HIV project saved 100,000 in India from infection: StudyOctober 11th, 2011 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS
London, Oct 11 (IANS) An estimated 100,000 people in India may have been lucky in escaping HIV infection due to a project that targeted high-risk groups in six states, according to British medical journal The Lancet.
The study published Tuesday said the $258 Avahan project, launched in 2003 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in high-prevalence states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland, was instrumental in checking infections in the country in a five-year span.
India has an estimated 2.4 million people living with the infection.
The programme was assessed from 2003-08 in six Indian states, home to 300 million people and the country’s highest HIV rates when it was launched.
“Overall, we estimated that 100,178 HIV infections were averted at the population level from 2003 up to 2008 as a result of Avahan,” the study said.
Its estimate derives from HIV prevalence in key districts in the six states.
The focus of the project was on one-on-one safe-sex counselling, free condoms, exchanging used needles for sterilised ones, clinics to treat sexually-transmitted disease and advocacy work within the community.
The study said that the campaign was most effective in districts which received more resources. It also worked better in the heavily-populated southern states rather than in the remote northeastern ones, said the authors.
The project’s aim was to prevent infection among sex workers, gays, injecting drug users and truck drivers. Also, to see that it did not infect the general population.
The project is going to be integrated with the Indian government’s National AIDS Control Programme.
The project was launched when there was a growing concern globally about India’s growing HIV population. It was estimated at that time that there could be as many as 25 million people infected with the disease by 2010.
But a systematic and detailed study conducted by the Indian government showed that the fears were unfounded. The estimate came down from 5.7 million to 1.75-3.15 million living with the infection.
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