The fact is that over 57% of the 2.9 million HIV positive people in India live in rural areas. India still has a rural base with 69% of its population living in rural areas. Young migrant workers and other highly mobile population essentially come from villages. Due to rural-urban continuum, rural population is also not lagging behind its urban counterpart in adopting high-risk behaviours.
To face the challenge of HIV/AIDS in rural India is even more difficult due to poor literacy rates resulting in poor awareness, mostly engaged in unorganised sector and stigma associated with it.
Link Workers Scheme (LWS) implemented in 100 villages each at Purulia & Murshidabad targeting youth, vulnerable and high risk population for prevention of STI/HIV/AIDS and improve service delivery linkages. Murshidabad & Purulia is a vulnerable district due to high migration, interstate border, trafficking, poverty, illiteracy and poor health care. Link Workers have been accepted as frontline development functionaries and are proving to be successful in reaching out to the target population.
LWS successfully reached out 4861 HRGs and 146079 vulnerable young men and women in last two years. Referral services to ICTC, STI and TB have increased significantly and a total of about 18500 cases referred to health facilities for testing of HIV, 79% cases actually turned up for testing; more than 7800 STI cases identified, 64% reported; 2700 TB cases identified, 52% reported and utilised the services. About 3860 pregnant women identified in the project area and referred for HIV testing.
The link-worker, through a due diligence process, keeps on motivating the person to access HIV/AIDS related services such as HIV testing, treatment of STIs, ART, treatment of opportunistic infections and minimise the gap between beneficiary and service delivery. This need to scalled up to arrest the spread of STI/HIV/AIDS in rural setting.
- Link Worker Scheme