Gates Foundation Project Saves 100,000 Indians From HIV, Study Says

Using counseling, outreach, needle exchanges, a whole lot of condoms, and a whole lot of money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a project in India was able to stop more than 100,000 people from getting HIV.

That's according to a UW study published today in the medical journal The Lancet.

The $258 million largely-Gates-funded "Avahan" project was launched in 2003 in the Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu states of India, where HIV rates are highest.

By targeting the most at-risk people, like prostitutes, drug addicts, gay men, and truck drivers (true story), the doctors and medical professionals involved with the project were able to affect big change in a very poor segment of human society.

"Overall, we estimated that 100,178 HIV infections were averted at the population level from 2003 up to 2008 as a result of Avahan," concluded the study's authors.

Still, the findings don't come without some major caveats, namely that much of the population sampled were pregnant women, but this data-skewing fact wasn't factored into the end figure.

One scientist went so far as to say formulating a study like this "just doesn't work", telling the AP "I'm not going to judge how high my plane is flying by how many times my ears pop. It doesn't tell you where you're at."

Still others have questioned the project's price tag and its eight-year length. But if $258 million bought anywhere near 100,000 fewer HIV cases, then the Indian health-care system made out like bandits considering the amount of money it costs to treat an actual HIV case once it's contracted.

Whatever the final figures, it's clear that a lot of people probably avoided getting HIV thanks to old-fashioned outreach, at-risk medical services, and of course, Uncle Bill's thick stacks.

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