The attempt to control the HIV epidemic is on exhibit in the city streets of the Aurangabad and Nagpur districts of Maharashtra. Looped red ribbons, symbols of this effort, adorn the walls and lamp posts, publicly expressing the district administration’s commitment to the prevention and control of HIV. Billboards, signposts, and prominent display ads on public transport vehicles are designed to boost public awareness of the virus. But are government commitment and public outreach enough to make a positive impact on public and individual perceptions of HIV, when social stigma and fear turn the detection of vulnerability into a Herculean task?
In these two districts, where HIV prevalence among specific most-at-risk populations is very high, the Avert Project in collaboration with the Government of Maharashtra, funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development, has launched a broad-based and participatory strategy for HIV prevention and management. This strategy, the District Comprehensive Approach (DCA), links available public, private, and community resources to identify and reach those who are most vulnerable to HIV with comprehensive services.