In India, in the context of HIV/AIDS, almost all sections of the society are deprived of essential information, knowledge and opportunities. In a sense, the whole society seems marginalized. Therefore, reaching out to people from different sectors, e.g. literate and illiterate, men and women, people from slums and from richer strata, students in schools and colleges, street children, children in institutions, school and university teachers, industrial workers, doctors, social workers, workers in organized and unorganized sector, etc. were the challenges during the initial phase of the HIV epidemic in India. Dr. Vinay Kulkarni and Dr. Sanjeevani Kulkarni started their work in the area of HIV/AIDS and sexuality in 1986, as an individual initiative.
In 1989, Vinay happened to diagnose his first HIV patient at his private clinic (Amrita Clinic). It was an eye opener to have a HIV infected patient at the private clinic of a relatively junior physician within just three years after the first case report from India. That was an elderly patient who was infected through contaminated blood transfusion in rural Maharashtra sometime in early 80’s. This was a stark realization of the likely spread of HIV/AIDS by then and depth of its impact in store.
Soon there was recognition of the impending disaster and many groups started to feel the need for their training to conduct awareness programs in the community. Vinay and Sanjeevani started conducting numerous trainings in early 90’s.
PRAYAS was formally launched as a registered charitable trust in 1994.
As the epidemic evolved, other activities like clinical and counseling care center, information center started.
PRAYAS Health group expanded steadily. It undertook several projects, which led to its overall development and growth.
Prayas Health Group has always remained in the forefront; predicting emerging issues and planning systematic responses. Initiatives regarding interventions as well as research have always evolved out of felt needs. The work on health seeking behaviors of rural women, MSM, prevention of mother to child transmission, stigma, capacity building; all are testimony to this vision.
The individual efforts of two doctors grew surely and steadily into a sizable family that would stand firmly in the fight against the HIV epidemic.