City-based Ashodaya Samithi has received the Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant for its project ‘Our Life Matters’, which focuses on sex workers or persons living with HIV (PLWH).
According to a press release from Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant programme, non-governmental or advocacy organisations of India were invited to submit applications for the first time, this year. The programme is a corporate giving initiative, dedicated to support HIV-related projects that address the challenges faced by communities affected by HIV.
Ashodaya Samithi is a community organisation ‘of, for and by’ sex workers, committed to uplift and holistically improve the lives of sex workers, by addressing challenges in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Ashodaya Samithi integrates sexual and reproductive health into the existing package of services, tackling co-morbidities such as tuberculosis (TB) among HIV positive people, advocating social justice. Ashraya, a subsidiary of Ashodaya Samithi, focuses on treatment, care and support, and mental wellness of sex workers living with HIV. It includes those who are not sex workers, but are stigmatised for their HIV positive status.
Manjula Ramaiah, director of Ashodaya Samithi, said, “The grant will allow Ashodaya Samithi to expand Ashraya’s existing initiatives to include other activities that promote good health and positive lives for sex workers and other members living with HIV. Gilead had earlier supported Ashodaya in the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) demonstration project.”
“Now, the fund will enable us to ramp up our efforts to ensure that sex workers and those living with HIV have easy access to life-saving therapies and clinical services. They can be treated with dignity and respect. We will design programmes that will ensure that those diagnosed with other co-morbidities like TB adhere to the treatment. We are committed to improve the holistic well-being of patients, which includes their physical, social, financial, and emotional well-being,” she said.
Dr Rahul Bargaje, public health and medical affairs director at Gilead Sciences India, said, “Ashodaya Samithi will help us reach the ‘Fourth 90’, aimed at healthy aging among PLWH, and will ensure that people living with HIV enjoy a good health-related quality of life."
Rathna, a beneficiary said, “Ashraya is a ray of hope in our lives. It helps us to access antiretroviral therapy (ART), to adhere to medication and to receive medical services in hospitals, without the fear of being looked down upon”.
Ashodaya Samithi is among four winners of the 2019 Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant Programme. The others are: Yerala Projects Society, Karnataka Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS and The Voluntary Health Services. Under this year’s programme, Gilead is awarding a total of $1.4 million to around 40 projects.