Avert Society is a non-profit organization established under the bilateral agreement between the Government of India and the Government of United States of America in 2001, to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in Maharashtra. The Avert project supports the National AIDS Control Program and works in collaboration with Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS). The overarching goal of the Avert project is to demonstrate best practices in prevention programs for MARPs, community mobilization, and developing models in migrant and workplace interventions in five high prevalence districts.
Avert Society has undertaken Behavioural Surveillance Survey since 2004 in select districts of Maharashtra and for the first time, the entire State of Maharashtra was covered under the survey in 2009. Nine sub groups were surveyed, and the key findings were disseminated to stakeholders. The dissemination seminar was held on 8th October 2010 at the Y.B. Chavan auditorium with support from the Public Health Department, Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society and Mumbai District AIDS Control Society. The Maharashtra BSS 2009 report was released by Ms. Aradhana Johri, Joint Secretary, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) amidst high profile dignitaries from the State including, Shri Jayant Kumar Banthia, Principal Secretary of Commission of Family Welfare and Public Health Department, Ms. Kerry Pelzman, Director, Office of Population, Health and Nutrition, USAID, Dr. D.S. Dakhure, Director General Health Services and other senior level officials Government and Non Government Organizations and academicians.
The study findings show that large proportions of respondents from various groups are aware of HIV/AIDS. The use of correct and consistent condom which is the key message for prevention of transmission is high with commercial partners. Very low proportion of respondents from all categories reported STI symptoms. Mass media (Billboards & posters) was found to be the commonest medium of information for all the groups; while in case of Core Groups relatively high proportion reported to have received interpersonal education on HIV/AIDS.
In her key note address, Ms. Johri stated “that the document would be a rich source of information for the state level administration and programmatic decisions”. While speaking to the press, Shri J.K. Banthia stated “that Maharashtra is proactive in responding to the challenges of AIDS epidemic”.