ADB Supports Effort to Counter HIV/AIDS Spread along Roads in India

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The northeastern Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland will receive Asian Development Bank (ADB) support to address the social and health issues associated with road improvement.

The Cooperation Fund for Fighting HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, financed by the Government of Sweden and administered by ADB, is providing a $1.47 million technical assistance grant to carry out assessment work and capacity development programs in key agencies to help reduce the incidence of infections in areas earmarked for major road projects.

“The assistance will help provide stronger service delivery capabilities for HIV prevention in the five states, and will complement the work of the National AIDS Control Organization,” said Francesco Tornieri, Social Development Specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department.

New and upgraded roads may result in broad benefits to communities, particularly those in remote areas, but studies show they can also be a conduit for the spread of sexually transmitted infections. In the northeast of India, HIV prevalence is higher than in many other parts of the country, is increasingly driven by heterosexual transmission, and poses a major threat to poor rural women who lack equal access to health and nutrition services, and are less involved in social and political decision making than men.

The technical assistance will develop a project baseline and monitoring and evaluation system to provide information on the interaction between HIV transmission, road construction and high-risk behavior. It will roll out HIV training and skills transfer programs, targeting the private sector, health service providers and condom distributors, and will build up the HIV awareness capacity of nongovernment organizations, community-based organizations, people living with HIV, and trade unions. It will also complement ongoing direct interventions by state agencies to prevent HIV, targeting construction workers in campsites, and communities directly affected by infrastructure work.

Alternative livelihood and self-employment training initiatives aimed at promoting the economic empowerment of people living with HIV - particularly widows, destitute single mothers, female heads of households, and sex workers - may also be supported.

The National AIDS Control Organization is the executing agency for the technical assistance which will run from February 2010 until 2013.