As the foremost pioneer for HIV in India, Ashok Kumar Rau ignited the movement to recognize the critical needs of people living with HIV. Recognizing the deep stigma of HIV, Ashok’s intricate model seeks to systematically change the societal discrimination against children, women, and men living with HIV/AIDS.
Beginning in a chicken coop in 1992, Ashok’s Freedom Foundation offers comprehensive medical, psychological, social and legal services for the well-being of people living with HIV AIDS. As the first to introduce a psychological angle to a purely clinical approach, Ashok takes a holistic perspective towards addressing HIV/AIDS. Ashok’s vision was to normalize the lives of those affected. For instance, he has worked with schools to destigmatize HIV positive children. Also, His Freedom Foundation has worked to mainstream women rejected for their AIDs, helping them achieve financial inclusion, marriage, employment and housing. By 2009, Ashok was running 48 centres across the country offering comprehensive care to those who needed it, with direct services to around 450 to 475 people on a daily basis.
Around this time, the National AIDS Control Organisation recognized and integrated the Freedom Foundation model into its already existing prevention model. Today, the model is well entrenched across the HIV AIDS intervention spectrum, and his 360 degree approach has become the accepted way of working with and empowering affected communities. Furthermore, Ashok’s model was profiled in a WHO Global Knowledge Pack and recognized by the UNAIDS as a best practice. Through this, he was able to replicate his model in Nigeria and Botswana, where local organisations learned from and propagated the Freedom Foundation model.
Ashok is now focusing his interventions at underserved areas within the sector. He is using his expertise to address the issue of affordable diagnostics for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Specifically, experimenting with graduated cost recovery model to make HIV/AIDS treatment more accessible through the subsidization of anti-retroviral drugs and diagnostics. Besides this, Ashok is turning his attention towards the often neglected topics of children with HIV AIDS development; and reproductive health, where he aims to create and scale interventions in these areas.
Note: This was updated in August, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile.