Health & Eco Defence Society



That set H.E.D.S. in motion

AIDS was a rapidly rising crisis among sex-workers of Calcutta Metropolis


          HEDS initiated a STD / HI / Intervention Programme for commercial sex-    

          workers, in the Kalighat area of Calcutta.


   A clinic was opened in December '92 and HEDS ran the programme

   independently, with only technical assistance from the All India Institute of

   Hygiene & Public Health (AIIH&PH) and in collaboration with some other


   The location itself was a challenge, because Kalighat happened to be an "ancient'
   place of pilgrimage and "prostitution" was a classic inheritance of tradition found
   in many places across India and the world. It was India in microcosm, seen in that


   Howrah, another very old, industrial township on the opposite bank of the river
   Hooghly across Calcutta, was the next location.


   Two "red light zones" were earmarked for STD/HIV Intervention Programme in
   April '93.


         The programme was later expanded to cover other similar 1ocations in the old,
   high..density city areas of Bowbazar and Tollygunge.


  Kalighat, Howrah, Bowbazar and Tollygunge - were actually extensions of HEDS
  teams working with/among sex-workers of
, one of the largest centres
  of sex-working in India.



        The Health Directorate of the Govt. of Meghalaya in the North-Eastern part of
 India - assigned HEDS the task of
assessing the sex-work industry and drug-
 addicted population of the State.


 The 6-month project was carried out on a turnkey basis. And the result was a
 breakthrough Survey Report complete with maps/charts/data - the first of its kind

 in the hill-state.


 The Sonagachi Project - The name for the STD/HIV Intervention Programme in
 Calcutta - is now under the supervision of a Board of Trustees, in which the --
 workers & volunteers are actively involved.

 The programme has become a role model in AIDS Prevention and Control
, particularly because of the high rate of success in its endeavours.

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