National AIDS Control Organisation is a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.
In 1986, following the detection of the first AIDS case in the country, the National AIDS Committee was constituted in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
As the epidemic spread, need was felt for a nationwide programme and an organisation to steer the programme. In 1992 India’s first National AIDS Control Programme (1992-1999) was launched, and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was constituted to implement the programme.
The objective of NACP-I (1992-1999) was to control the spread of HIV infection. During this period a major expansion of infrastructure of blood banks was undertaken with the establishment of 685 blood banks and 40 blood component separation. Infrastructure for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases in district hospitals and medical colleges was created with the establishment of 504 STD clinics. HIV sentinel surveillance system was also initiated. NGOs were involved in the prevention interventions with the focus on awareness generation. The programme led to capacity development at the state level with the creation of State AIDS Cells in the Directorate of Health Services in states and union territories.
During NACP-II (1999-2006) a number of new initiatives were undertaken and the programme expanded in new areas. Targeted Interventions were started through NGOs, with a focus on High Risk Groups (HRGs) viz. commercial sex workers (CSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDUs), and bridge populations (truckers and migrants). The package of services in these interventions includes Behaviour Change Communication, management of STDs and condom promotion. The School AIDS Education Programme was conceptualised to build up life skills of adolescents and address issues relating to growing up. All channels of communication were engaged to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, promote safe behaviours and increase condom usage. Voluntary counselling and testing facilities were established in healthcare facilities to promote access to HIV counselling and testing. The interventions for prevention of parent to child transmission were also started. Free antiretroviral therapy was initiated in selected hospitals in the country. Development of indigenous vaccine and research on microbicides are some initiatives in HIV research. Apart from this, some policy initiatives during NACP-II included National AIDS Prevention and Control Policy, National Blood Policy, a strategy for Greater Involvement of People with HIV/AIDS and National Rural Health Mission.