The International Alliance for the Prevention of AIDS (IAPA) was founded in 2004 by Arizona college students inspired by community focused health initiatives to combat the spread of HIV in India, basing the organization in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
IAPA was based in Chennai for two reasons. First and foremost, according to the UNAIDS and the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the southern region of the country shoulders the heaviest burden of HIV infections, with Tamil Nadu having high incidence and prevalence rates for HIV infection and AIDS. Second, Tamil Nadu is widely recognized as having the best health infrastructure in India with regard to HIV, with surveillance, testing, and targeting of high risk groups all serving as essential focal programs of NGO’s and government organizations. These conditions allowed IAPA to easily integrate into the HIV prevention and treatment network of Chennai, while focusing on groups that were previously not targeted, such as youth and university students.
By the summer of 2005, IAPA was a federally registered non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code.
In 2006, IAPA India was registered as a Charitable Trust in Chennai, run completely in-country by local staff. IAPA has since run nine successful summer volunteer programs, bringing over 150 American students together with over 70 Indian students to teach HIV prevention education to thousands of secondary school and university students, slum residents, fishermen, and HIV hospice visitors. The IAPA India staff has collaborated with several other Chennai based NGOs to produce several street plays and community education programmes. IAPA and IAPA India are currently preparing programs to facilitate greater community cooperation, monitoring and evaluation of HIV projects around the city, and stigma reduction education programs.
IAPA’s Influence in the US
Since its inception, IAPA has not only been an incredible humanitarian force in India, but has worked to train the future leaders in the US. Over 200 US college students have been trained by IAPA and have had the opportunity to take part in the Summer Volunteer Program. Many have been so impacted by what they saw, that they returned in subsequent years to pursue projects, and rekindle the wonder that they discovered in India.
Of the 200+ volunteers, more than a fourth have been accepted to medical schools across the nation, many others have gone on to pursue careers in public health, HIV domestic services, or continue international work. Former volunteers are have been given awards, including becoming Trumann scholars in international achievements. Even greater, several former volunteers have taken the idea that IAPA has modeled in India, and established wonderful AIDS service NGOs in Thailand, Peru, and in the US as well.
“The effect of IAPA is one of exponential magnitude. The power of one person, one student, in two countries, inspired to be more than what is expected; indeed to be greater than one thought possible.” said Sanjay Sinha, co-founder.