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Avahan Aids initiative may have prevented 600,000 HIV infections in India over 10 years
Date:9/29/2013

A programme funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may have saved around 600,000 people in India from becoming infected with HIV over the course of a decade, according to a new report.

Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative, which was launched in 2003, aimed to prevent HIV transmission in the general population through a comprehensive HIV prevention programme including the promotion of condoms among the people at most risk female sex workers, high risk men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users in the six Indian states with the highest HIV rates.

In an evaluation of the project published in Lancet Global Health, researchers estimate that it prevented more than half of the infections that would have occurred without the Avahan intervention.

Avahan, an investment of over $250 million for the Foundation, involved outreach and risk reduction education programmes, condom distribution and social marketing as well as measures aiming to build community resilience and reduce the stigma attached to HIV. Funding and management of the programme is transitioning to the Indian government.

The main part of the evaluation was based on data from 24 districts in south India where Avahan operated, covering the period from 2004 to 2008. The authors used mathematical models to compare the observed trends in HIV infection, estimated through detailed epidemiological studies, with those that would have occurred in the absence of the increase in condom use following the initiative.

They found that in these 24 districts, 62,800 infections were prevented in the first four years of the programme. By extrapolating the results to all 69 districts in south India where Avahan operated, they estimate that 202,000 infections were prevented in those four years, increasing to 606,000 over 10 years.

Dr Marie-Claude Boily, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "These findings suggest that the approach used by Avahan, of tar
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Contact: Sam Wong
sam.wong@imperial.ac.uk
44-207-594-2198
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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