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5.134 million People infected with HIV in India

Dr. Rajesh Chatterjee
“AIDS is the great moral challenge of our time and we are clearly at a crossroads in the global fight. Which path will we take? Will we act to save millions of lives? To preserve families, communities and

countries? To protect international and economic security? The choices we make now will define generations to come. Let us rise to the challenge, finally get ahead of the epidemic, and change the course of history.” Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director  

Globally, 42 million people are now living with HIV and AIDS. Just fewer than 40,000 new cases of HIV infections occur every single day.  By December 2004, it was estimated that there were about 5.134 million people infected with HIV in India with no state free from the virus. India presently ranks as the second country in the world, next only to South Africa with large number of persons having HIV infections.

NACO II commenced with effect form April 1999 and is currently operative. The phase of the programme was launched to achieve two objectives: (i) To reduce the spread of HIV infections; and (ii) To strengthen the capacity of central and state Governments to respond to HIV / AIDS on a long-term basis.

However in terms of prevalence rates, HIV prevalence rate is 0.91 per cent among adult population in the country and this places India among the list of Low Prevalence countries of the world because of the overall HIV prevalence being less than 1 per cent among the adult population of the country. Prevalence rate of HIV infections in South Africa at present is 21.5 per cent.

The HIV/AIDS Bill 2005, India

To this end, in 2005, a unique joint initiative of the government and civil society will see the introduction of the HIV/AIDS Bill 2005 in Parliament. Drafted by the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit (LCHAU) after rigorous consultations across the country, this Bill embodies principles of human rights and seeks to establish a humane and egalitarian legal regime to support India’s prevention, treatment, care and support efforts vis-à-vis the epidemic.

The Rights Recognised in the HIV/AIDS Bill is

1. Right to Equality;

2. Right to Autonomy;

3. Right to Privacy;

4. Right to Health;

5. Right to Safe Working Environment;

6. Right to Information.

Vulnerability to HIV

The other provinces along with Tripura are categorized as ‘Vulnerable’. So the vulnerability to HIV can not be overlooked as all factors. Therefore, it is considered that there is no scope for complacency in observing prevention measures any where in the state.

Information, Education and Communication (IEC) is one of the most important strategies in the fight against HIV / AIDS, in the absence of a vaccine or a cure. It becomes imperative to continue intensive IEC efforts that will not only raise awareness levels in the general population on prevention of the infection but also bring about behaviour change to adopt and maintain healthy life style.

Strengthening IEC through partnership with Students in College and University

It is addressed through the “Universities Talk AIDS” (UTA) programme. The Universities Talk AIDS (UTA) project is a collaborative partnership between the National Service Scheme (NSS), Department of Youth and Sports, and NACO. In this connection, Tripura University can participate to make aware the rural people, and these all works can be done through the Centre for Rural Studies (CRS) and Centre for Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) of Tripura University and is closely associated with the Department of Master in Rural Management and Development (MRMD). The students of MRMD could play a decisive role as a ‘social mobiliser’ to aware the rural masses.

The CRS will work in collaboration with National Service Scheme (NSS) unit in Disseminating knowledge and creating awareness thorough IEC by developing partnership with the institutions like College Students, Self Help Groups (SHGs), Panchayats, Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), association with Primary Health Centre and information Booth at Airport / Bus Terminal.

The CSSEIP can also research work through participatory method (PRA) to find out the actual condition of HIV/AIDS, and to collect quality data from the field which will facilitate the state to formulate proper plan to prevent this epidemic in future.

Aids Is Not a Form of Divine Punishment or Retribution

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September 2008

Rajesh Chatterjee is a Lecturer of Rural Management & Development in the Tripura University.