The Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) implements and studies projects related to HIV/ AIDS and reproductive health in the Indian states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. A partnership between the University of Manitoba, Canada, and the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society, KHPT combines rigorous academic analysis with grounded community initiatives.
Sex-worker HIV prevention is an area of particular expertise. KHPT interventions have strong structural components, working to reduce HIV vulnerability by:
- mobilising sex-workers to form and sustain community-based organisations (CBOs),
- addressing gender-based violence,
- reducing sigma and discrimination, and
- enhancing access to social entitlements.
KHPT's STRIVE team. Back row, left to right - H.S.Srikantamurthy, Gautam Sudhakar, Prakash Javalkar, Kumar Vadde, Raghavendra.T, Shajy Isac, Chidambar Kabbur. Front row, left to right - Sapna G.Nair, Priya Pillai, Parinita Bhattacharjee, Tejaswini Hiremath. Photo credit - Manjima Bhattacharjya
Parinita Bhattacharjee, Director, Programmes, is a graduate from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and has extensive experience in designing and managing programmes for HIV prevention. A strong believer in planning with the community, she specialises in preparing participatory tools on sexual health. At KHPT, Ms Bhattacharjee leads the design and implementation of outreach programmes.
Shajy K Isac, Director, Research and Special Studies, has a PhD in Population Studies and more than 15 years' research experience in large scale studies and monitoring systems for HIV/AIDS, Maternal and Child Health. He has led a number of studies for international and national donors and also provides technical support to UN bodies, government and non-government organizations in India and elsewhere in South Asia and Africa.
The Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) was set up in 2003 by the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society and the University of Manitoba. KHPT implements and evaluates HIV prevention programmes, initially through the Gates Foundation’s AVAHAN initiative and also in partnership with the Centre Hospitalier affilié Universitaire de Québec, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and others.
One of the first organisations to conduct interventions with rural traditional sex workers, KHPT has strengthened community-based organisations throughout Karnataka. STRIVE draws from KHPT’s close examination of distal factors at work in these structural interventions, at learning sites:
- in Bangalore, on female sex work interventions,
- in Bagalkot on rural HIV prevention and care, including training “link workers”, and
- at a hospice in Bangalore on HIV-related care and support.
KHPT interventions and studies reach:
- over 60,000 female sex workers and over 20,000 MSM and transgenders in Karnataka,
- 14,000 rural female sex workers, 24,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and 8,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Karnataka and coastal Andhra Pradesh, and
- community-based health personnel (“link workers”) in eight districts of Karnataka.
To deliver comprehensive, structural programming, KHPT team combine expertise in public health, programme outreach (including CBO management), communications, community mobilisation, training, counselling, and monitoring and evaluation.
Findings from KHPT’s intervention research have had considerable impact in informing local policy and practice. For example:
- India’s national AIDS programme now includes violence reduction as a strategy to tackle the vulnerability and risk of sex workers and MSM;
- micro planning tools developed in AVAHAN projects are now standard in targeted interventions nation-wide; and
- national policy guidelines for HIV prevention now include a focus on rural sex workers.