This project aims to build in-country capacity and document and disseminate programmatic lessons from Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative.
In 2003, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched Avahan, an initiative to reduce the spread of HIV in India by expanding access to HIV prevention programs in six states. While HIV prevention programs had been operating in India for more than two decades, Avahan built a unique, community-centered, sustainable model for reaching individuals most vulnerable to HIV infection. The Avahan project was aimed primarily at female sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgendered people, injecting drug users, and clients of sex workers, including long-distance truck drivers. The project involved numerous distinguished organizations and universities in program implementation, monitoring, evaluation, advocacy, and knowledge-building.
Goals of this project are to analyze, document, and disseminate significant findings from Avahan to guide future initiatives for HIV prevention in India and in countries with similar epidemics. The project also aims to build national capacity in documentation and dissemination. The Population Council is working with in-country partners to:
- Identify and document the key areas of available information;
- Assist Avahan’s implementing partners to analyze their own data sets;
- Collaborate with academic institutions to synthesize the evidence on best practices, patterns of behavior, and lessons learned;
- Commission small additional studies to fill gaps in the existing data; and
- Disseminate findings to government and non-governmental organizations, decisionmakers, donors, and other stakeholders.
Beginning in 2009, the project has:
- Generated information on program access, quality, coverage, and use of services.
- Trained over 200 program managers from 17 implementing agencies in scientific writing, with 61 individuals receiving intensive mentoring.
- Supported the publication of more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles documenting lessons learned from the Avahan project.
- Established the IndiaHIV Knowledge Network portal and Harvard Dataverse hub as common collection points for published resources, data, and tools. The Knowledge Network has also facilitated the widespread dissemination and use of lessons learned from the Avahan project and has promoted cross-country learning—primarily with select countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific—by providing a forum for webinars, chats, and discussion groups.
- Developed a compendium of published articles that has been disseminated to national and international stakeholders.
The documentation of Avahan will continue to have enormous impact on HIV prevention programs in India and globally. The project has ensured universal access to program data through the IndiaHIV Knowledge Network portal and Harvard Dataverse hub and made significant contributions to the growing scientific literature on HIV prevention.
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has incorporated lessons from the work on migration and HIV into the national program, and the project has provided key evidence to NACO on the importance of community mobilization in HIV prevention intervention and the need to identify new strategies to reach key populations. Project findings have also led to changes in HIV programs at the state level. In addition, the Council and its partners are assisting NACO in HIV size estimations, research, and monitoring and evaluation of national and state-level HIV prevention programs and in their national Integrated Behavioral and Biological Surveillance.