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Concepts and strategies for scaling up focused prevention for sex workers in India

Abstract

Objectives: To describe the concepts, strategies and field results of a project to scale up prevention programmes and services for female sex workers (FSWs) in Karnataka, India.

Methods: A strategy was developed to scale up urban sex worker interventions in 18 districts in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Macro-level coverage objectives were defined by mapping the urban locations where FSWs operate and estimating their population size. Prevention programmes were initiated in the urban locations that contained at least 90% of the estimated urban FSW population in each district. Within each location, a micro-planning process was used by FSW peer educators and outreach workers to design local outreach and service delivery plans.

Results: An estimated 48 973 FSWs were distributed across 1551 locations and 6232 spots. Outreach was conducted by 1043 peer educators. Services were provided through 170 drop-in centres, 93 programme-run clinics, 110 outreach clinics and 157 referral clinics. Within the first 3 years of the programme the cumulative number of individual FSWs contacted at least once was >78 000, with monthly contact established with 81% of the in situ population; >45 000 FSWs had visited a clinic and >10 000 visited monthly. Direct and indirect condom distribution by the programme amounted to more than 30 per contacted FSW, which is estimated to meet the condom requirement.

Conclusions: A strategy that involves geographically defined coverage and micro-level outreach planning can rapidly and effectively provide outreach and services to large dispersed FSW populations.

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