While the initial findings regarding the $258 million Avahan project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, come with large uncertainty due to data limitations and methodology, the study's authors say the overall message is clear: that investing in prevention can make a dent in one of the world's largest epidemics, with an estimated 2.4 million Indians infected.
The program was assessed from 2003 to 2008 in six Indian states, home to 300 million people and the country's highest HIV rates when it started.
It involved needle exchanges, safe-sex counseling, condom distribution and other interventions to reach vulnerable groups, including truck drivers, injecting drug users, men who have sex with other men, and prostitutes, along with their clients and partners.
The project's aim was to reduce the number of infections infiltrating the general population by targeting those who posed the highest risk.
Image: Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, seen with a child belonging to the Mushar community at Jamsot Village near Patna in March 2011.
Text: Margie Mason, AP