Worldwide, India ranks third in terms of the number of people live with HIV, affecting 2.1 million people according to recent estimates. Programming efforts aimed at vulnerable populations, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, injecting drugs users, and truckers, have resulted in a decline in the HIV incidence rate. Building off of that success, the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) is working to further accelerate progress in decreasing the transmission of HIV, by targeting increases in low prevalence states, including through spousal transmission.
The RISHTA project, which means “relationship” in Hindi and Urdu, was conducted in a typical low-income urban community of around 600,000 people in the northeast quadrant of Mumbai City, India and was built on relevant, culturally-based attitudes and behaviors related to sexual health. The project targeted married women who, around the world and in India, are at high risk for contracting HIV by being married to men who participate in high-risk sexual behaviors.
The RISHTA project looks at the following questions:
- How can we identify the women are most vulnerable to HIV/STI transmission within marriage?
- What approaches can help to reduce married women’s risk?
- What outcomes indicators should we use to measure the program’s success?
The following project brief outlines a model for HIV/STI risk/vulnerability reduction for married women by addressing a wide range of psychosocial, marital, and sexual risk factors by integrating counseling and education with primary care through community intervention and education programs.