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We support Government’s efforts to reduce HIV and AIDS amongst key populations at higher risk, uphold the rights of the marginalised and strengthen the most-at-risk population to form networks and collectives to better their access to quality HIV prevention, care and support services. We also work to address socio-economic, cultural conditions and norms that influence the drivers of the HIV epidemic.

HIV and AIDS in India

Safer sex practices are critical to preventing the spread of HIV. Adequate knowledge and application of those practices depends on gendered relations between sexual partners and the existing social environment. In India, prevailing social norms limit discussion on sex, sexuality and other such taboo subjects. Low awareness coupled with lack of access to proper knowledge increases the risk of people contracting HIV. Several studies also report high levels of stigma against PLHIV in India. For example, 5 percent to 30 percent of PLHA claimed discrimination/enacted stigma1, 91 percent women and 82 percent men in Chennai feared disclosure of HIV status to their family2, 74 percent of PLHIV did not disclose status at work3 , and more than 90 percent of the PLHIV widows had stopped living in their marital homes after their husbands’ death4 . This, in turn, influences the demand for HIV-related prevention and care services.

in depth

Strategic Support through Partnership with NACO

UNDP’s partnership with National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has helped identify the key populations at higher risk such as MSM, TG and PLHIV (with a specific focus on women and girls) and provide them with social protection. UNDP has also conducted the first-ever study on the socio-economic impact of HIV on households. The findings have led to a better understanding of the vulnerabilities of those at-risk and marginalised populations.

Resources and technical expertise are provided to the state governments and the civil society organisations to implement the National AIDS Control Programme. Initiatives are also taken to address the issues of unsafe mobility and the stigma attached to HIV.

UNDP has supported the establishment of 29 district-level networks of PLHIV and the Integrated Network for Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM). Information and training to 15.6 million people including service providers has also helped strengthen capacities of the communities to protect themselves from HIV. UNDP India, in line with the joint UN Framework for Action, is now specifically focusing on addressing punitive laws and environments that affect inclusion of the criminalised and marginalised groups. 

Policy Change to Enable Social Protection

UNDP in collaboration with networks of HIV-positive people and NACO has been able to effect policy changes in 35 government schemes that enable those affected by HIV access various entitlements. These schemes include free transport, nutritional support, legal aid, micro grants, short stay at home, livelihoods, education, and pension. Rajasthan, for example, was the first state to modify the widow pension scheme to cover all HIV-positive widows irrespective of their age.  

Key Facts on HIV and Development 

  • 88.7% of people living with HIV are between the ages of 15 and 49
  • 39 out of 100 people living with HIV are women
  • 87% of HIV transmission is caused by unprotected sex
  • HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is 7.3%
  • HIV prevalence in transgender/hijra communities varies between 26% and 49%
  • 221 districts across 22 states have functional networks of people living with HIV
  • 54 out of 195 districts with high HIV prevalence are in states and union territories with low HIV prevalence


India HIV Estimates-2008 (Provisional), 2007, 2006, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO); HIV Sentinel Surveillance and HIV Estimation, NACO, 2007 & 2006; Draft Gender Policy and guidelines for HIV programmes, NACO, 2008; Mumbai HIV Sentinel Surveillance 2007, 2008.

From the Frontline of Community Action: A Compendium of Six Successful Community Based HIV Interventions That Have Worked for MSM- TG-Hijras in India

The report critically assesses six community-based organizations working with men-who-have-sex-with-men and transgenders from different parts of the country. It details key interventions implemented by them, partnerships with other community members, lessons learnt and replicable models for further interventions

Social Protection that Works for PLHIV - A Compendium of Case Studies from 8 States

The report with the National AIDS Control Organisation documents the experiences of PLHIVs in accessing social protection schemes and outlines challenges faced in accessing benefits and successful approaches to overcoming these hurdles.

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