Due to the mainstreaming initiatives of HIV prevention programmes under the guidelines of NACP-Phase III, the community driven prevention programme of TAI was transitioned to TANSACS (Tamilnadu State AIDS Control Society). Since 2009 the TI programme has exceeded its allotted target of 2000 FSWs and reached 2400 FSWs in the region. Russ Foundation has provided a much needed space for a high risk community to have free health checks and treatment for STIs and other ailments. Additionally there is always a counselor and a dedicated team of staff on hand to provide help with problems such as harassment, advocacy, and also to provide opportunities for alternative training and rehabilitation.
Since 2008 Russ Foundation has extended its HIV prevention programme to the district of Tuticorin, covering the areas of Kovilpatti, Kayathar, Pudur, Vilathikulam, Ottaipidaram and other parts to work with 1500 people from the FSW (Female Sex Workers) and MSM (homosexual) communities. The programme aims to intervene in and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in these two high risk communities. Russ Foundation runs two drop-in centres and clinics, each with a dedicated medical team along with well-trained and experienced counselors and out-reach workers, who all work tirelessly to control and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The programme was initially funded by APAC-VHS Chennai under the bilateral agreement with USAID and the Government of India, according to the guidelines of NACO (NACP III) and subsequently by TANSACS after the transition.
This programme has been running in Theni district since January 2009 with the financial support of APAC-VHS under NACP III. The main aims of the project are to provide linking services for PLHA in rural areas and also to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst these communities. The objective of the Link Worker Scheme is to have a link worker, someone who lives in the village and belongs to the community, who can educate others about safe sex, and can help provide high risk people and vulnerable young people with information and skills to combat the spread of STIs and HIV/AIDS.
The link workers are assisted by volunteers who are also involved in other full or part timework, educating the population on sexual health, HIV/AIDS, consistent and correct use of condoms, STIs, unwanted pregnancy, care and support programmes throughout the communities, and services like STI, ICTC, PPTCT, ART, DOT and many other healthcare related services. The link workers and volunteers also work closely with PLHAs, helping them to get treatment, ART adherence and periodical check-ups.