The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s $258 million AIDS prevention program in India has prevented more than 100,000 people from becoming infected, according to a study published today in the Lancet, which concludes that prevention programs targeted at high-risk populations can be effective. The initiative, dubbed Avahan, focuses on prevention techniques like needle-exchange programs, safe-sex counseling, and condom distribution, which have historically attracted fewer donors than efforts to cure the disease, the AP explains.
The study looked at data from 2003 to 2008 and found that higher spending from the Avahan initiative correlated to lower infection rates, at least in some provinces. But the study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and critics say its methodology is flawed because it used pregnant women from antenatal clinics as its data source. “Right from the start, it just doesn’t work,” one researcher said. He said Avahan has a positive effect, but it is “hard to quantify.”