Crew! Hey, i would like to recommend that you pick up a copy of Susan Hunter's AIDS in Asia: A Continent in Peril.
"Why? We're not going to work with HIV/AIDS issues when we go to India, are we?", you might be asking, and rightfully so. And while the direct answer is "no, not specifically", this book outlines many of the cultural and social issues that exist in Indian (and other southeast Asian) cultures that make engaging such issues as HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related social issues such a difficult challenge. In addition, many of the church planters with whom we will be working ARE engaging HIV/AIDS issues in their contexts, and while it may be said that we are not engaging that issue directly through our trip, many of the people we are going to serve will be engaging it if they are not already.
According to Hunter, 3% of India is currently HIV positive. By 2010, that figure is expected to rise to 10% (which would be 140,000,000 people). If trends hold, HALF of all of those cases will be located geographically in Tamilnadu, where we do the bulk of our work. In addition, if the former holds true for speculation, then by 2010, there will be almost 3 times as many cases of HIV/AIDS in India than the entire continent of Africa (remember that Africa is a continent with 54 countries... India is a single nation).
Hunter worked for several years with the UNAIDS (The United Nations special task force on the HIV/AIDS issue), and has a very hand's on perspective on not only AIDS, but the social and community implications as well. She is by no means an avowed Christ-follower, and many of her conclusions are downright anti-male (the whole "men are evil and the root of all problems in the world" perspective kind of rubs me the wrong way... though there are some who might agree :- ), but she provides a great analysis of how culture and other issues are often "entangled" with other ones, and how no issue operates in a vacuum. I learned a lot about Indian culture that i didn't already know and often this was completely separate from the HIV/AIDS issue.