India’s National AIDS Project Reaching Out to MSM, Other Groups
Officials with India's National Aids Control Project III are focusing their prevention efforts at men who have sex with men, as well as other vulnerable groups, in an effort to reduce the number of new HIV cases in the country, the Times of India reports. According to the Times, the other groups include long-distance truck drivers, prison inmates, migrants, refugees and homeless children. Officials aim to reduce the number of new HIV cases by 60% in high prevalence states during the project's first year, the Times reports.
Bindumadhav Khire of the men's sexual health organization Sampathik said that all MSM "should not be put under only one category." He said that truck drivers, prisoners or soldiers "might get involved with the same gender" because of the absence of female partners, adding, "Unsafe sex in these cases is risky, as it is in the case of opposite gender" partners.
Khire also said that many MSM are reluctant to discuss their situation publicly, adding, "This suffocation results in destructive tendencies and unsafe sexual practices, which could lead to HIV infection." Vijay Nair, project director of Udaan, said that increased efforts should be made to distribute condoms and provide information about their use to help curb the spread of HIV among MSM.
R.R. Gangakhedkar, deputy director of clinical research at the National AIDS Research Institute, said that estimates place the number of long-distance trucker drivers in India at about five million. He added that under "NACP III, we are making efforts to reach them" (Jadhav, Times of India, 3/23).