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Community mobilisation for HIV prevention in India: What difference does it make?
  1. Isabelle de Zoysa1,
  2. Kevin O'Reilly2
  1. 1Florence, Italy
  2. 2World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Isabelle de Zoysa, Lungarno Guicciardini 17, Florence 50125, Italy; isabelledezoysa{at}gmail.com

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This special issue brings together a series of papers on the implementation and evaluation of community mobilisation efforts among sex workers and other marginalised populations within Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative. Avahan was initiated in 2003 as an attempt to build an HIV prevention model at scale across the six high prevalence states in India. It used a flexible but target-driven approach derived from business to mobilise collaboration and drive rapid implementation on the ground. Within a few years, Avahan demonstrated that high levels of coverage of high impact interventions can be achieved with large numbers of people at risk.1 ,2 The states targeted in this project have populations greater than most countries; working at scale in these settings was indeed a tall challenge. A recent study suggested that Avahan succeeded in averting an estimated 100 000 HIV infections by 2008.3

Inspired by the pioneering work of the Sonagachi Project in the state of West Bengal,4 Avahan included specific measures to build community participation and mobilisation within its mandated package of HIV prevention interventions. As described in the papers in this issue by Wheeler et al and Galavotti et al,5 ,6 the project deliberately sought active participation of sex workers and other high-risk groups in service planning and delivery, implemented structural approaches to address significant concerns of daily life (such as social …

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