YRGCARE renewed its focus on prevention and addressed the vulnerability of women in lower socio-economic groups to HIV and STDs by innovative approaches. Investments were increased to assist women living with HIV enhance their understanding about HIV and access to care.
Men as change agents in reducing domestic violence
Women affected by domestic violence are more likely to be at-risk for HIV and STI infections, as lack of bargaining power, economic dependence, and other cultural factors put them in compromised positions. With support from the Ford Foundation (2006-08), 150 individuals each in 15 different settings (men and women in equal numbers) identified as Community Popular Opinion Leaders (CPOLs) enrolled in a training program to mobilize community awareness about domestic violence and HIV. A highly sustainable model, this initiative helped set up first response counseling centers in each such community to help women experiencing episodes of violence. Additionally each counseling center had sufficient resource lists and linkages to provide value added services as required- short stay homes, legal services offered gratis, rapport with police stations ensured interventions as needed and with Government agencies that offer support to vulnerable women. The consortium that includes NGO partners (around 40) continues sustained and comprehensive delivery of services, ranging from short stay homes for victims, paralegal aid, suicide prevention and school education for children from affected families.
The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)/Tides Foundation supported a Treatment Education Audiovisual DVD in Tamil – Bouquet (Malarkothu) for those living with HIV and their care givers and friends. The treatment education was focused on ART related treatment issues and included a peer educator component for dissemination of information,
Mothers’ Voices, a psychosocial program for women living with HIV
Mothers’ Voices – “Thaiyin Kural” in Tamil, a psychosocial program for women living with HIV which started in 2006 within the clinic, expanded to the wider community with increased access to treatment education in collaboration with AIDS Project Los Angeles with support from the MAC AIDS Fund. YRGCARE took to scale its women’s empowerment and support groups. By the end of 2007, 55 support groups were formed in 29 districts of Tamil Nadu, covering 1387 women living with HIV. The groups had an 80% retention rate, wherein 986 women graduated from the support group program. The support groups facilitated discussions on antiretroviral support, treatment literacy, psychosocial ramifications of infection, and economic livelihood options.
Panchayat on Resisting Stigma and Homophobia
YRGCARE actively participated in the Actionplus Panchayat series on Resisting Stigma and Homophobia, held between January -April 2009 in five cities; Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Delhi. The People’s Panchayat sought to understand and unravel perceptions about, struggles and accomplishments against stigma and homophobia through the voices of survivors and resistors. Through these testimonies, the Panchayat sought to address the devaluation of entire communities of people who practice alternate sexualit, to an absolute erosion of all notions of rights or dignity.
Livelihood improvement (since 2009)
YRGCARE’s livelihood improvement initiatives seek to improve personal well being and public health by means of innovative and scalable economic enterprise models. These projects supplement family funds, allowing for enhanced access to healthcare, improved nutritional status, payment of tuition and school uniform and increased self worth of the entrepreneurs and their families. The Pi Project in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University helped train and establish 50 women in sex work in the production of reusable, eco-friendly bags. YRGCARE’s first widely successful social entrepreneurship program, the Pi Project empowers women by providing job training, budgeting skills, awareness of critical health issues, and a sustainable income. Approximately 90% of proceeds go directly to the women who receive monthly wages with an additional income for each bag sold. For more information, log on to www.pibags.org/bags
India’s First Group Health Insurance for People Living with HIV 2006-08
YRGCARE supported the efforts of Population Services International (PSI) to introduce a specially designed insurance product of the STAR Health Insurance Co Limited, for people living with HIV in Tamil Nadu. Nearly 1000 men and women living with HIV enrolled in the plan, in various districts of Tamil Nadu. The outreach focused on the most financially vulnerable individuals. The insurance was subsequently expanded to include children living with HIV, and 1500 children were enrolled.