Kripa Aids

Kripa Aids

Vasai Regional Aids Control Society

Vasai Region AIDS Control Society (VRACS) is a Kripa – AIDS initiative commissioned in Vasai, in Thane district of Maharashtra. VRACS attempts to visualize Vasai as a controlled zone for HIV and co-infections. This model attempts to implement various public health projects for the control and care of the HIV epidemic through community empowerment.  VRACS sees itself as a nationally replicable model in the private sector with a large community participating base, which supports this integrated Clinico-Community system.

Realizing the paucity of care and support services in this region Kripa Foundation started a Home Based Care on 15th October 2002, funded by Catholic Relief Services. The Home Based Care initiative provided the much needed service but was still inadequate to meet the demands of the population. With an area comprising 302 sq miles and a population of 6,00,000 (census 2004) it was practically impossible to holistically address the situation. The project site was also placed at a distance of 33 miles from Mumbai making the government medical interventions in Mumbai inaccessible to a large proportion of the population.

In order to meet these rising demands, a new project was started for care, support and targeted interventions funded by AVERT Society. This saw the birth of Vasai Region AIDS Control Society on 19th January 2003, inaugurated by Dr. Jeffery Nadler, Professor of Medicine, University Of South Florida and Mr. Vaidyanathan, Project Director of AVERT Society.

VRACS National Update

VRACS since then has had the technical support of the University of South Florida’s CHART-India (Centre for HIV-AIDS Research and Training in India) programme.


VRACS attempts to visualize Vasai as a controlled zone for HIV and co-infections. This model attempts to implement various public health projects for the control and care of the HIV epidemic by community empowerment. VRACS sees itself as a nationally replicable model in the private sector with a large community participating base, which supports this integrated Clinico-Community system.

  • To create an integrated and Comprehensive Clinico-Community Program.
  • To maintain this system by community empowerment and participation.
  • To diagnose HIV positives by a properly Counseled and Confidential system.
  • To create a continuous awareness program for clinicians and the community which is run by both clinicians and the community.
  • To create a Clinical Care Center, initially for children and then for adults, for treating and caring for patients with HIV and co-infections.
    This will provide coordinated care and specialized care if needed.
  • To create a surveillance system to monitors the changing trends in the epidemic and act as a national indicator for the disease.
  • To include research into every project it undertakes either on the social or clinical front.

Mr. Amit D. Patel (Program Manager)
Vasai Region AIDS Control Society (VRACS),
Kripa Foundation, Papdy,
Vasai (W) Thane – 401 207
0250 232 6522/ 232 6069
0250 2326521

The VRACS module is a comprehensive clinico-community programme. It is holistic in approach and aimed at addressing the specific needs of People Living with HIV (PLHAs) and their significant others in Vasai. A combination of clinical support provided by a battery of trained physicians, community care through ongoing intervention activities and home-based care has enhanced the reputation organization, and today VRACS is second to none in the battle against the pandemic in the country.
The programme module is specifically structured and has proved itself to be a NICE (Networked Initiative for Community Empowerment) model for SMART (Surveillance, Management & Care,  Awareness, Research and Training) service.
The Advisory board of VRACS has significant stakeholders from the community such as elected leaders, government officials, educationists, members of commerce and trade, religious leaders, media representatives and student leaders. Recently a PLHA (person living with HIV-AIDS) is inducted as an active board member in deference to the principle of Greater Involvement of People living with HIV-AIDS (GIPA). The board, which was originally an organizational initiative on the part of the project, has truly gained community impetus. The board currently is more focused on developing specific agendas with nominated responsibilities for their effective implementation.

CSNL (Counseling and Surveillance Network of private Laboratories): The Network of Private Laboratories in the region was formulated by the project to create an environment of ethical practices vis-à-vis testing for HIV/AIDS carried out in the private sector. This initiative works on the sense of social responsibility. The initiative has involved the development of a forum and its capacity building. The forum also serves as the data pool for the surveillance module of VRACS.
ELFA (Elected Leaders Forum against AIDS): The establishment of the Elected Leaders Forum on AIDS in Vasai has been a unique initiative of the project and was formed on 14th August 2003. This body comprises of elected leaders of the zone. The aim of the body is to lobby for the cause of health including HIV/AIDS in Vasai.
CIDC: Clinical and Infectious Diseases Centre provides ‘round the clock’ management and monitoring of the clients. Psycho-emotional support for the client and the family is integrated into the care programme. The development of a strong, high quality and linked treatment module that works on the principal of low cost community care and support has been the cornerstone of the project. Treatment of major opportunistic infections along with meticulous and timely management of asymptomatic patient has steadily been portraying the message that HIV is a chronic manageable illness and need not be associated with death when treated right.

Peripheral service delivery through Mobile Van: In order to reach some of the inaccessible areas in the region, a mobile van was commissioned on 2nd May 2004. This van acted as a mobile VCCTC and facilitates awareness activities.

Mr. Amit D. Patel (Program Manager)
Vasai Region AIDS Control Society (VRACS),
Kripa Foundation, Papdy,
Vasai (W) Thane – 401 207
0250 232 6522/ 232 6069
0250 2326521

  • Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre (ICTC)
  • Management of Opportunistic Infections
  • Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infection
  • Delivery of Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme(RNTCP) – Directly Observed Therapy Short-course (DOTS) programme for TB management
  • Anti Retroviral Therapy initiated and maintained along national/international guidelines while monitoring adherence
  • Targeted Interventions in the industrial belt of Vasai and along the national highways to cover high-risk vulnerable populations like Commercial Sex Workers (CSW), truckers and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM)
  • Nutrition supplementation: a socio-cultural specific nutrition supplement is provided to PLHA as an adjunct to HIV management
  • Training of primary caregivers and PLHA on the home-based management of health issues associated with HIV
  • Pre, Post HIV test Counseling and Maintenance Counseling, including treatment adherence counselling
  • Home visits for follow up of clients and to monitor ART adherence
  • Awareness programmes through single events and mass events for
    • Sensitization and Destigmatization
    • Awareness and Education
    • Community Mobilization
    • Marketing the VRACS activities
    • Reaching out to the infected and affected populace
    • Identifying and Tracking key populations vulnerable to HIV infection
  • Formation of support groups of people living with HIV/AIDS, caregivers and community volunteers as well as peer educators
    • Psychosocial, legal and medical support including counselling
    • Awareness and Education
    • Community Mobilization
    • Community-based anonymous self-help group
    • Yoga and meditation programmes for psycho-emotional and health stabilization for PLHA and significant others
  • Training Health Care Providers, Paramedical and support staff on International protocols for HIV management
  • Psycho-Social and Clinical Research, public health monitoring of prevalence and trends related to HIV dissemination in the region
  • Annual International updates/conferences with technical support from the University of South Florida

Mr. Amit D. Patel (Program Manager)
Vasai Region AIDS Control Society (VRACS),
Kripa Foundation, Papdy,
Vasai (W) Thane – 401 207
0250 232 6522/ 232 6069
0250 2326521



What is HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

What is AIDS? What causes AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immuno deficiency syndrome. A HIV-infected person receives a diagnosis of AIDS after developing one of the CDC-defined AIDS indicator illnesses, (opportunistic infection.) A HIV-positive person who has not had any serious illnesses also can receive an AIDS diagnosis on the basis of certain blood tests (CD4+ counts). A CD4+ count of less than 200 indicates a severely damaged immune system and an AIDS diagnosis.

A positive HIV test result does not mean that a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using certain clinical criteria.
Infection with HIV can weaken the immune system to the point that it has difficulty fighting off certain infections. These types of infections are known as “opportunistic” infections because they take the opportunity provided by a weakened immune system to cause illness.
Many of the infections that cause problems or may be life threatening for people with AIDS, are usually controlled by a healthy immune system. The immune system of a person with AIDS is weakened to the point that medical intervention may be necessary to prevent or treat illness.
Today advanced technology has made available medication that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventative care.
Also, once a person is diagnosed with AIDS, they will always be considered to have AIDS, regardless of clinical changes later on. For example, if a person has HIV and a CD4 count below 200, they are considered to have AIDS. If their CD4 count later goes back to above 200, they are still considered to have AIDS.

How can I tell if I'm infected with HIV? What are the symptoms?

The only way to determine for sure whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for many years.

The following may be warning signs of infection with HIV:

  1. Gross weight loss
  2. Gross appetite loss
  3. Repeated loose motions
  4. Repeated fever
  5. Recurrent Herpes (Shingles)
  6. Tired without apparent reason
  7. Night sweats
  8. Bleeding from any part of the body
  9. Neck glands/swelling
  10. Repeated skin rash
  11. Coloured patches on the skin
  12. White tongue
  13. Gross forgetfulness
  14. Loss of interest in life
  15. Repeated angry moods
  16. Sudden impulses to act

However, no one should assume they are infected if they have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be related to other illnesses also. Again, the only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection

How long after a possible exposure should I wait to get tested for HIV?

The tests commonly used to detect HIV infection actually look for antibodies produced by your body to fight HIV. Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 3 months after infection, the average being 25 days. In rare cases, it can take up to 6 months. For this reason, the CDC currently recommends testing 6 months after the last possible exposure (unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex or sharing needles). It would be extremely rare to take longer than 6 months to develop detectable antibodies. It is important, during the 6 months between exposure and the test, to protect yourself and others from further possible exposures to HIV.

What do the test results mean?


  • Your blood has been tested with both the screening test called the ELISA and a confirmatory test called the WESTERN BLOT.
  • You are infected with HIV.
  • You must assume you can infect other people.
  • You may or may not develop AIDS or HIV related symptoms.


  • You are not infected with HIV; or
  • You may be infected, BUT your body has not yet produced enough antibodies for detection. Antibody production generally takes up to 3 months after infection, but in some cases up to 6 months or longer before antibodies can be detected. Sometimes a retest is necessary.
  • You may be infected, but your body won’t produce antibodies, (which is very rare).

A person who engages in high-risk activities and tests negative should realize there can be false negatives – that is, a person could be infected even though the antibody test is negative. A person who tests positive OR who engages in high-risk activities should NOT donate blood, semen, organs or tissue. They should use risk reduction during sexual activity. A confirmed positive test means you have been infected with HIV. It does NOT mean you have AIDS or will develop AIDS. If you test positive, further evaluation is necessary to see if you have immune damage or any condition that indicates AIDS. A person who tests positive is infectious and can pass the virus to others.

Remember that negative results are not a guarantee that you are immune to a future infection of HIV. Safer sex / risk reduction must be practiced now and in the future.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid or “pre-cum”), vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person.
HIV can enter the body through the anus or rectum, the vagina, the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or inside of the nose), cuts and sores or through a vein (e.g., injection drug use). Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.

These are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted from one person to another:

  • By having sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal, or oral sex) with an HIV-infected person
  • By sharing needles or injection equipment with an injecting drug user who is infected with HIV
  • From HIV-infected women to babies before or during birth, or through breast-feeding after birth

Some health-care workers have become infected after being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood. Hence all health workers should use barriers like gloves, masks when attending to HIV positive patients
HIV is not easily transmitted. It is NOT spread through the air, through water, by insects, or during ordinary social contact. It has NEVER been transmitted by casual contact.

Can I get HIV from performing oral sex?

Yes, it is possible for you to become infected with HIV through performing oral sex. There have been a few cases of HIV transmission from performing oral sex on a person infected with HIV. This is theoretically possible in the presence of acute oral inflammation, ulcerations, gingivitis and other bleeding conditions. Evidence suggests that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex.

Blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, and vaginal fluid all may contain the virus. Cells in the mucous lining of the mouth may carry HIV into the lymph nodes or the bloodstream. The risk increases

  • If you have cuts or sores around or in your mouth or throat;
  • If your partner ejaculates in your mouth; or
  • If your partner has another sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Can I get HIV from anal sex?

Yes, it is possible for either sex partner to become infected with HIV during anal sex. HIV can be found in the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid of a person infected with the virus. In general, the person receiving the semen is at greater risk of getting HIV because the lining of the rectum is thin and may allow the virus to enter the body during anal sex. However, a person who inserts his penis into an infected partner also is at risk because HIV can enter through the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis) or through small cuts, abrasions, or open sores on the penis.

Having unprotected (without a condom) anal sex is considered to be a very risky behavior. If people choose to have anal sex, they should use a latex condom. Most of the time, condoms work well. However, condoms are more likely to tear during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be risky. A person should use a water-based lubricant in addition to the condom to reduce the chances of the condom tearing.

Why is injecting drug use a risk for HIV?

At the start of every intravenous injection, blood is introduced into needles and syringes. HIV can be found in the blood of a person infected with the virus. The reuse of a blood-contaminated needle or syringe by another drug injector carries a high risk of HIV transmission because infected blood can be injected directly into the bloodstream.

In addition, sharing drug equipment can be a risk for spreading HIV. Additionally there is the risk of acquiring Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C from infected individuals.

Is there a connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Yes. Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether the STD causes open sores or breaks in the skin (e.g., syphilis, herpes, chancroid) or does not cause breaks in the skin (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea).

If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, breaks or sores may make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even when the STD causes no breaks or open sores, the infection can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make HIV transmission more likely.

In addition, if a HIV-infected person is also infected with another STD, that person is three to five times more likely than other HIV-infected persons to transmit HIV through sexual contact.

Not having (abstaining from) sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid STD’s, including HIV. For those who choose to be sexually active, the following HIV prevention activities are highly effective:

  • Engaging in sex that does not involve vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • Having intercourse with only one uninfected partner
  • Using latex condoms every time you have sex