Around 600,000 people in India may have been saved from becoming infected with HIV over ten years with the help of a programme funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a study.
In an evaluation of the 2003-launched AIDS project Avahan, researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that Avahan prevented more than half of the infections that would have occurred without its intervention.
An investment of over 250 million dollars for the Foundation, Avahan involves outreach and risk reduction education programmes, condom distribution and social marketing to build community resilience and reduce the stigma attached to HI.
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, and it found that in these districts, 62,800 infections were prevented in the first four years of the programme, which increased to 606,000 over a decade.
According to researchers, Avahan can be effective at controlling HIV in the population at large, adding that if the programme is replicated, it is possible that the large scale expansion of this intervention to other settings in Asia and Africa could have a demonstrable impact on the worldwide HIV epidemic over the next decade.