Karnataka, in the southern India and consider the hub of the country's Information Technology (IT) sector, has also earned the invidious distinction of being a state with a very high incidence of HIV/AIDS.
Recognizing the need to mount a multi-pronged attack on the growing crisis, voluntary organisations and government agencies are now hoping to rope in the industry in their efforts to promote the adoption of sexually safe and healthy practices.
Towards that end, Population Services International (PSI), a voluntary organisation working in the area of public health, will soon launch a programme, Connect, with support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"Under this programme, a consortium has been formed, including Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), YRG Care, a non-governmental organisation based in Chennai and the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, a partnership between the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society and the University of Manitoba, Canada, which will execute the programme through funding from USAID," Sanjay Chaganti, Programme Director, PSI said.
The United States agency has given an initial funding of Rs. 5 crore for this year and subsequently, the consortium hopes to raise resources through its industry partners with matching grants from USAID.
"We have enrolled 36 companies in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for the project and the staff will be given training and education on HIV/AIDS related issues, including prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. We are also working with the management of the companies to adopt an HIV/AIDS policy for their workforce and to have linkages with health centres and NGOs," Chaganti said.
He added that PSI was in the process of involving a few public sector companies in Bangalore, including the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), in this programme.
It will be run initially in Karnataka and the neighbouring coastal Andhra Pradesh and later expanded to other States.