HIV in Northeast India

December 1 is World AIDS Day, the day on which we pause to think about the millions of people affected by the HIV pandemic. As the date approaches, we will post a series of entries focusing on our HIV and AIDS programs around the world. Some of the posts will be technical in nature, underscoring the scientific and programmatic foundations of CRS’ work.

India recently announced some good news in the fight against HIV. New treatments and a strong government response have caused the epidemic to stabilize in much of the country. But India has the world’s second-largest population, so even small percentages translate to vast numbers. In fact, more than 2.5 million Indians are living with HIV. And the epidemic varies widely in different areas of the country.

Northeast India, in particular, is struggling with the spread of the virus. The area shares a long border with several other countries and is in close proximity to Asia’s infamous “Golden Triangle,” where much of the world’s opium is produced. The easy availability of drugs such as heroin, along with high unemployment, poverty and civil unrest, has led to widespread drug use in the area.

In the face of this alarming situation, CRS created the Preventing AIDS in Northeast India (PANI) program in 2004. Over the last four years, the program has been a huge success, providing medical treatment, support and education to nearly 200,000 men and women. Click here to read a story about how PANI is helping women affected by HIV.

For further, more in-depth reading, check out CRS India PANI Evaluation (Senefeld, S. & Overton, J. (2008). Earlier this year the PANI project conducted an end-of-project evaluation to determine the project’s effectiveness and impact on the lives of its program participants. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, the evaluation sought to determine the effectiveness of PANI’s interventions and provide concrete recommendations for future PANI interventions.

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