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The "Mukta" (meaning "Freedom") Project, as it is locally known, is an initiative of Pathfinder International, a partner of the Gates Foundation/Avahan Project in India. Pathfinder International works in 10 districts of Maharashtra state in India to reduce the prevalence of STIs and HIV/AIDS among female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and their partners. This peer-led program works with a network of NGOs, private and public sector health sites, combined with community mobilization, and interaction with public health and other departments to create an enabling environment for this marginalized population. Through interventions like peer-based BCC, delivery of comprehensive healthcare services with a strong focus on quality STI management and care, and availability and utilization of free and socially marketed condoms, Mukta had reached over 25,000 FSWs and MSM who are at risk of being exposed to HIV and other STIs and reduced the STI rate among FSWs and MSM by over 30% by the end of its first phase.
On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Project Director Darshana Vyas joined us for a talk on Taking Prevention to Scale: Lessons from India's Mukta Project. Shediscussed the successes and challenges of scaling up a prevention program, as well as transitioning program implementation and management to the government and communities, where empowerment is especially crucial to program sustainability. CGD Senior Fellow Mead Over served as a discussant and Nandini Oomman, Director, HIV/AIDS Monitor, and Senior Program Associate, Center for Global Development, moderated the discussion.