India HIV/AIDS Alliance
|Focus||HIV/AIDS, Key Populations|
|Mission||Strengthening community action on AIDS.|
Founded in 1999, Alliance India  is a non-governmental organisation operating in partnership with civil society, government and communities to support sustained responses to HIV in India that protect rights and improve health. Complementing the Indian national programme, we build capacity, provide technical support and advocate to strengthen the delivery of effective, innovative, community-based HIV programmes to vulnerable populations: sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, hijras, people who inject drugs (PWID), and people living with HIV.
Alliance India’s programmes foster wellbeing, realise equality, and affirm the dignity of communities most affected by HIV/AIDS.
Leveraging its implementation experience, it works closely with the Alliance Regional Technical Support Hub for South Asia  to strengthen capacity of civil society organisations, government and the private sector in South Asia to respond more effectively to HIV/AIDS.
An independent national NGO managed and governed wholly in India, Alliance India is also an accredited member of the global network of Linking Organisations of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.
Alliance India works in the following technical areas of the HIV response in India:
- HIV Prevention
- Care and Support
- HIV and SRH
- Harm Reduction and Drug use
Named for the Sanskrit word for ‘dawn’s first light,’ Vihaan is a national initiative establishing and managing 350 Care & Support Centres (CSCs) across India to expand access to essential services, increase treatment adherence, reduce stigma and discrimination, and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV (PLHIV). The programme is designed as the care & support component of the country’s HIV response under National AIDS Control Programme IV (NACP IV). Working in collaboration with the Department of AIDS Control  and with support from the Global Fund, the programme operates in 31 states and territories and will reach more than one million PLHIV by 2016. The Vihaan consortium is led by Alliance India and 17 state-level PLHIV networks and NGOs that in turn partner with district-level PLHIV networks and other organisations to deliver care & support services in communities. Vihaan provides access to a range of quality care & support services using an integrated approach that complements existing HIV prevention and treatment programming. Working in coordination with nearby ART Centres, CSCs serve as safe spaces for PLHIV offering services that include counselling, outreach and follow-up support, health referrals, and linkages to social welfare schemes.
Named for the Hindi word meaning ‘identity,’ ‘recognition’ or ‘acknowledgement,’ the Pehchan programme strengthens and builds the capacity of 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) to provide effective, inclusive and sustainable HIV prevention programming in 17 states in India for more than 450,000 men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and hijras (collectively, MTH). Pehchan is funded by the Global Fund and remains their largest single-country grant to date focused on the HIV response for vulnerable and underserved sexual minorities. Along with Alliance India, the Pehchan consortium includes the Humsafar Trust, Pehchan North Region Office, SAATHII, Sangama, Alliance India Andhra Pradesh, and SIAAP. Pehchan is a rare example of a Community Systems Strengthening programme working at a national scale. It provides organisational development, technical and capacity building support to new and existing CBOs working with MTH communities. Using a rights-based approach, the programme develops CBOs to serve as implementing partners with the National AIDS Control Programme’s Targeted Interventions (TIs) that provide HIV prevention services to high-risk groups. By helping build strong CBOs, Pehchan addresses capacity gaps that often prevent them from receiving government funding. Pehchan also enhances the scope of services to reflect the needs of the community. The programme leverages and complements the government’s HIV prevention strategy for MTH by providing services beyond basic HIV prevention that support an enabling environment that encourages healthy behaviours. Pehchan also fosters community-friendly services in the broader health system and engages in advocacy to improve the lives and wellbeing of MTH populations in India.
Named for the Hindi word for ‘heart,’ the Hridaya programme expands harm reduction services for people who inject drugs (PWID), their partners and families and fosters an enabling environment by protecting and promoting their rights. The programme leverages the existing government investment in HIV prevention for PWID and builds NGO capacity to expand services to include a full range of harm reduction interventions. Hridaya is funded by the Government of Netherlands and is part of the five-country Community Action on Harm Reduction  initiative. The programme in India complements and supplements the services of Targeted Interventions (TIs) in selected states. TIs are at the centre of the HIV prevention approach for PWID adopted by the Department of AIDS Control and implemented by State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) around the country. Hridaya works in partnership with 34 organisations to augment existing capacity and fill implementation gaps in harm reduction in the states of Bihar, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jammu, and Manipur. By the end of 2014, the programme will reach more than 50,000 beneficiaries, including more than 10,000 PWID.
Named for the Hindi word for ‘effort,’ the Koshish programme supported advocacy and action to improve sexual & reproductive health (SRH) of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key populations in India. Funded by the European Union, the programme strengthened civil society organisations and networks that represent and work with PLHIV and other marginalised groups, such as female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, hijras and people who inject drugs (PWID). Through coalitions, Koshish partner organisations worked at state and district levels, affirming principles of empowerment and meaningful partnership as core elements of effective advocacy. The programme was successful in advancing community-led advocacy initiatives that raised awareness of SRH challenges faced by PLHIV. Community priorities were then taken up by state-level advocacy coalitions established by Koshish and composed of civil society organisations, PLHIV networks, community-based organisations working for and led by key populations, and media. Koshish successfully advocated for appropriate interventions to address critical challenges facing PLHIV, including social stigma and discrimination, limited accessibility to and availability of essential SRH services, and lack of a comprehensive approach to the SRH needs of PLHIV, particularly of women living with HIV (WLHIV). For instance, the programme increased access for WLHIV in the four programme states to Pap smear testing. WLHIV are five-times more susceptible to cervical cancer than other women. Alliance India implemented Koshish in partnership with CHETNA, MAMTA, PWDS and VMM, along with state-level PLHIV networks in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Female sex workers (FSWs) have considerable unmet sexual & reproductive health (SRH) needs due to their occupations and social marginalization. They are discouraged from accessing SRH services due to stigma and discrimination, negative attitudes of healthcare providers, and fear of clients, law enforcement, and people opposed to sex work. Evidence, both global and national, has shown that linking HIV and SRH services provide a valuable impetus to encourage uptake of prevention, treatment, and care and support services, especially by people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key populations, including FSWs. With this approach in mind, Alliance India with funding support from MAC AIDS Fund has initiated a pilot programme Abhaya – meaning ‘fearless woman’ in Hindi – for FSWs in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Abhaya expands access to complementary SRH services, including basic information, counselling, referrals and linkages to facilities providing required services. In addition, Abhaya builds the capacity of healthcare providers to address the specific needs of FSWs. Abhaya also engages in advocacy with the government to identify opportunities to adapt and scale up expanded access to SRH services for FSWs. Abhaya gives a significant role to FSWs in the implementation of the programme at all stages to increase ownership and the potential for sustainability of the initiative. Over the first two pilot years, the programme will reach 4,500 FSWs and their partners, helping them better identify their SRH needs and access quality services thus empowering them to protect their overall health and well-being.
Asia Action on Harm Reduction
Worldwide an estimated 16 million people inject drugs, and three million of them are living with HIV. In India, HIV prevalence in this group is 24-times that of the general population. Though progress has been made, the HIV epidemic continues to be fuelled by stigma, discrimination often experienced by the community together with the laws, policies and practices that impose harsh penalties on people who use drugs. With funding from European Union, the Asia Action on Harm Reduction (AAHR) programme supports advocacy to increase access by people who inject drugs (PWID) to comprehensive harm reduction services and reduce stigma, discrimination and abuse towards this vulnerable population. AAHR is working towards improving national policy environments for more evidence-based and rights-based responses to drug use and HIV/AIDS in six countries in Asia – China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. In India, AAHR engages with PWID and partners in Bihar, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Manipur.
Often neglected, women who inject drugs are a highly marginalised and vulnerable population in need of a comprehensive response to meet their health and social needs. With support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Alliance India partnered with Social Awareness Social Organisation to mitigate the impact of drug use and HIV on these women through the Chanura Kol project – named with the Manipuri words for ‘garden of women.’ Through a holistic, community-based model, Chanura Kol met immediate health, protection and psychosocial needs of women who inject drugs. In addition the project enhanced access to harm reduction services, supported economic rehabilitation and social integration, and reduced stigma and discrimination related to both injecting drug use and HIV. Drop-in centres and a short-stay home were established to provide harm reduction services, HIV prevention interventions, care & support programming, and counselling. Support groups were also formed in each district, providing outreach and referrals to sexual & reproductive health (SRH), antiretroviral therapy (ART), ICTC, general health and other social services. Referrals were also provided for drug treatment and oral substitution therapy (OST). Once women completed treatment or stabilised on OST, they could access the short-stay home for six months; the home provided shelter, food, health services, psychosocial and family reintegration support, and vocational training.
Avahan India AIDS Initiative was a focused prevention initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that worked in six states of India to reduce HIV transmission and lower the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in vulnerable high-risk populations – female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, people who inject drugs (PWID) – through prevention education and services. Alliance India was designated a state lead partner for Avahan in Andhra Pradesh (AP). The programme’s main components included condom promotion, STI management, behaviour change communication, community mobilisation, and advocacy. Avahan also supported the creation of an enabling environment through individual and organisational capacity building to increase the effectiveness and impact of the HIV response. Alliance India’s efforts in Andhra Pradesh strengthened the capacity of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisation (CBOs) to implement quality HIV and STI programming in close partnership with the AP State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) and in alignment with the National AIDS Control Programme IV (NACP IV). Reaching more than 85,000 FSWs, MSM and transgender people, the programme contributed significantly to HIV prevention among high-risk population in Andhra Pradesh. Health-seeking behaviour in these groups increased from 5% to 70% in the first five years of the programme. Condom distribution increased from 6.5 million to 102 million in six years. An estimated 10,000 HIV infections were averted among target populations in the 13 intervention districts in the Telangana and Rayalseema regions, and more than 450,000 people were reached through prevention campaigns and public events.
In a region where taboos prevent open discussions about sex, the Action Project opened up spaces for such conversations among young people in India and Bangladesh. Funded by the European Union, the project supported community mobilisation and advocacy to improve sexual & reproductive health (SRH) of young people. Using a right-based approach, the project focused particularly on the most marginalised young people – men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, people who inject drugs (PWID), female sex workers (FSWs), and people living with HIV (PLHIV). Peer-led discussions strengthened and empowered civil society organisations and youth groups to advocate for more responsive policies addressing the SRH of young people. The Action Project was implemented in India by Alliance India in the states of Manipur and Uttar Pradesh in partnership with SASO and MAMTA and in Bangladesh by HASAB. One of the key strategies employed by the project was the development of Youth Partnership Platforms (YPPs) to link youth group networks together at various levels to advocate for the inclusion of young people and their issues in national and state-level SRH policy and programme development. In addition, the establishment of Youth Information Centres at village level increased SRH and HIV knowledge among participating youth and expanded their capacity to share this information with their peers and in the wider community.
Named for the Hindi word for ‘wish,’ CHAHA was India’s first large-scale care & support programme for children, families and communities affected by HIV/AIDS. With support from the Global Fund, the programme was implemented in four states – Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, and Tamil Nadu – by Alliance India in collaboration with LEPRA, MAMTA, PWDS, SASO, VMM, NMP+, Plan India, TASOSS, and 54 community partner organisations. CHAHA was a child-centered, community-based care & support programme aimed at reducing HIV-related morbidity and mortality among children and adults by increasing social protection and enabling stigma-free access to services. Over the life of the programme, CHAHA reached 64,056 children and their families in 41,974 households affected by HIV. In its initial design, the programme focused on providing direct services. Based on lessons learnt through implementation, CHAHA revised its approach to focus on linking beneficiaries with existing government-funded social welfare schemes.
207 against 377
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalizes sexual activities "against the order of nature", including all homosexual acts. Initiated by the Pehchan programme, the ‘207 against 377’ campaign protests the December 2013 Supreme Court judgment that upheld Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, overturning a 2009 Delhi High Court judgment and thus re-criminalizing homosexuality. The decision contemptuously referred to sexual minorities as a “miniscule minority” whose rights are “so-called.” The ruling has made members of India’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities even more vulnerable to violations of their basic human rights, including discrimination, harassment and violence. Almost immediately, the Pehchan partners saw an impact on its work with men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and hijras, as fewer community members sought services as a consequence of the judgment. ‘207 against 377’ brings together the 207 organisations implementing Pehchan on a common platform to undertake advocacy against the judgment at district, state and national levels. The campaign reaches out to various stakeholders including political parties, religious leaders, media, police and educational institutions to increase their understanding of the challenges facing LGBT communities. The initiative raises awareness to influence the ongoing legal process to ensure rights, protection and dignity for all LGBT Indians.
Since 1999, the India HIV/AIDS Alliance has received support from:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Elton John AIDS Foundation
- European Union
- Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- Hewlett Foundation
- International HIV/AIDS Alliance
- Government of the Netherlands
- The Abbott Fund
- US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
- UK Department for International Development (DFID)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- United Nations Development Programme
- World Health Organization
Alliance Regional Technical Support Hub (South Asia)
In 2008, the Alliance Regional Technical Support Hub for South Asia was established by Alliance India with support from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (UK) to build the capacity of civil society organizations, government and the private sector in the region to respond more effectively and efficiently to HIV/AIDS. The Hub primarily serves the nine countries in South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In 2011, the South Asia Hub was incorporated as an independent, non-profit company in India.
Awards and Recognitions
India HIV/AIDS Alliance has been selected as one of three finalists for the India NGO Awards 2011 in the Large Organisation category. This award is a joint venture of the Resource Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation. It recognizes organisations that have demonstrated best practices in creative resourcing, financial management, governance and impact in the community.
- Serving with a Smile, An interview with India HIV/AIDS Alliance's Director, Programme and Policy, The Hindu, June 23, 2012
- From Bar Dancer to NGO Worker, An interview with India HIV/AIDS Alliance's Programme Officer, Pehchan, Times of India, June 10, 2012
- How Healthy Are The healthcare Settings for Transgender or Hijra people?, An article on Hijra Habba which also interviewed India HIV/AIDS Alliance's Country Director CitizenNews.org, June 6, 2012
- The Third Gender Does Not Deserve A Third Grade Treatment, E-Pao, June 6, 2012
- Pehchan marks World AIDS Day, Hindustan Times, December 1, 2011
- WHO SEARO report acknowledges The Alliance Regional Technical Support Hub and India HIV/AIDS Alliance, 2010
- Unnatural No More, An interview with India HIV/AIDS Alliance's Director of Technical Support, 2009