Vibha Marfatia

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2002

Citation

This profile was prepared when Vibha Marfatia was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Vibha works from the conviction that unless men are helped to break myths and address health concerns about their own sexuality and sexual behavior, they can never be responsible partners. Vibha is using a comprehensive approach to educate men on issues concerning male health. Vibha uses strategies like male meetings and male peer educators to create the comfortable environment necessary for addressing the traditionally taboo topics. Targeting diamond cutters and polishers, a group with high-risk behaviors in Surat, Vibha has created an alternative system to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. Vibha is also working with school authorities to introduce sexual education in all schools so young people can become informed at an early age.
Vibha's organization–Social Awareness for Health and AIDS (SAHAS)–has additional plans to convince policymakers and program implementers of HIV/AIDS programs to pay attention to the sexual health needs of men. Considering that HIV/AIDS is one of the most serious health challenges facing India and that nearly 80 percent of HIV infections are transmitted sexually, aggressive education and awareness programs are desperately needed. However, most programs designed to reduce the transmission of STDs and HIV are focused on women.
SAHAS will encourage other agencies working in similar areas to focus on the long-neglected sexual health needs of men. By transferring knowledge, technical capacity, and promoting advocacy between other major donor agencies and policymakers, Vibha hopes to sensitize men to take charge of their sexuality through a critical, autonomous, and responsible decision-making process.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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