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NEW DELHI -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will be investing $23 million over the next three years to enhance the capacity of the government of India’s HIV prevention response. The $23 million is part of an additional $58 million committed to Avahan, the Gates Foundation’s India AIDS Initiative, a five year, $258 million HIV prevention program. The $23 million will focus on two main areas, program management and technical capacity at the national and state levels.
The announcement was made today in a meeting between P.K. Hota, Union Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, and Dr. Tadataka Yamada, President of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. Dr. Yamada is in India to meet with government leaders and health experts, and to visit Avahan-supported HIV prevention projects.
Through the $23 million, Avahan will provide support for training of NACO and State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) staff to enhance their skills in project and financial management. On the technical side, Avahan will provide support to enhance interventions with key populations (sex workers, clients of sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users). The funds will be deployed between 2007-2009 and NACO and Avahan will jointly devise the implementation strategy.
“We welcome the new commitment by the Gates Foundation and look forward to furthering our partnership with Avahan to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS in India,” said Mr. Hota.
“This announcement comes at a critical juncture, both because of the epidemic’s current trajectory, which demonstrates the need to scale-up prevention efforts, and on the eve of the launch of National AIDS Control Program III (NACPIII),” said Sujatha Rao, Additional Secretary and Director General of NACO.
“The government of India is taking the AIDS challenge seriously, and there’s real hope that a widespread epidemic can be prevented,” said Dr. Yamada. “We are pleased to continue our commitment to Avahan, and proud to be a partner with the government of India.”
### Avahan (“call to action”) is the $258 million HIV prevention program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India. Launched in 2003, the program funds community-driven HIV prevention services to those most vulnerable to HIV—commercial sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users. The program focuses on India’s six high prevalence states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland), which are home to 70 percent of India’s HIV cases, and along 8000 kms of India’s national highways. Avahan currently operates in 76 districts across 535 towns, providing services to over 270,000 key population members and over 6,000,000 male clients.