NEW DELHI, Feb 1 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sanctioned a HIV/AIDS project worth USD 1.47 million for the North Eastern States of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. The region’s highway, for long suspected to be primary culprit for spread of the menace would be among the target area.
ADB support proposes to address the social and health issues associated with road improvement. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is the executing agency for the Technical Assistance (TA), which will run from February 2010 until 2013.
The TA will develop a project baseline and monitoring and evaluation system to provide information on the interaction between HIV transmission, road construction and high-risk behaviour.
The project will roll out HIV training and skills transfer programmes, targeting the private sector, health service providers and condom distributors, and will build up the HIV awareness capacity of non-government organisations, community-based organisations, people living with HIV, and trade unions.
The Project will also complement ongoing direct interventions by state agencies to prevent HIV, targeting construction workers in campsites, and communities directly affected by infrastructure work.
“The assistance will help provide stronger service delivery capabilities for HIV prevention in the five states, and would complement the work of the National AIDS Control Organization,” said Social Development Specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department Francesco Tornieri.
The Cooperation Fund for Fighting HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific is financed by the Government of Sweden and administered by ADB. The grant would be utilised for work and capacity development programmes in key agencies to help reduce the incidence of infections in areas earmarked for major road projects.
An ADB spokesman said 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 North East, HIV prevalence is higher than in many other parts of the country, and 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, ADB said.
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, said ADB.