Y.S. RANA , CHANDIGARH—Soon NSS volunteers across the country will be taken beyond the primary focus on the personality development through various community services to more challenging task of combating HIV/AIDs epidemic as the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, GOI has decided to implement the provisions of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached out between it and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
For effective implementation of MoU, ministry has sent letters to all States and Union Territories to prepare action plan (2015-16) of NSS activities in such a way so that biggest youth force in world could be used as the platform to combat it. It also directs the department to integrate HIV related risk reduction activities during the regular youth mobilization campaigns. It also suggests to building capacities of NSS volunteers who are identified as master trainers at the district level to strengthen HIV/AIDs intervention.
The ministry feels that notwithstanding years of concerted efforts on awareness and education, HIV/AIDs cases are increasing across the country. The ministry felt that health interventions alone were not sufficient to address the epidemic efficiently hence, the youth force can play an important and meaningful role in reducing vulnerability to HIV and mitigation its impact on those infected and affected.
It aims at preventing of HIV infection especially among the youth through inclusion of youth specific HIV information and services will check the vulnerability of HIV among them, women and migrant. It states that youth are the most vulnerable group for HIV/AIDs due to lack of awareness and access to services, the government has decided to reduce sexual transmission of HIV to 50 per cent by 2015.
“The reach of the Department of Youth Affairs through NSS and NYKS is huge and this could be used as the platform to provide STV/HIV related information and services,” says the MoU. It also asks the governments to conceptualize and plan special project for youth in the high risk states and districts by integrating HIV/AIDs in the training manuals and modules of the NSS and NYKS to reach out the maximum number of youth.
India has one of the largest numbers of people living with HIV/AIDs in the world. Given the prevalence rate of 0.27 per cent, around 21 lakh people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDs in the country. On the other, NSS has more than 32 lakh volunteers on its roll spread over 298 universities and 42 (plus 2) senior secondary councils and directorates of vocational education all over the country can play meaningful role in mitigating its spread and impact.
As per official data, there are more than 72,000 NSS volunteers in Himachal Pradesh compared to 1.50 lakh in Punjab and 14,000 in Chandigarh. HIV prevalence rate among young population (15-24 years) is 0.11 per cent. In some states declining trends of HIV prevalence rate are noted, however, rising trend is noted in Himachal Pradesh despite state government’s claim having adopted “zero discrimination and zero death due to HIV/AIDs.”
Kangra district has shown maximum increase in the number of HIV positive cases whereas Hamirpur district has shown maximum increase in the number of AIDs patients from 534 to 631 in 2013.
In 2014, in the state 7339 HIV positive cases and 2570 AIDs cases were detected. The official of the state government said that the state government had been running many schemes benefitting a number of HIV/AIDs patients. Forty-five integrated counseling centres were opened across the state to provide free of cost counseling, said he.
While talking to the reporter the official of the health department appreciated the involvement of NSS and NYKS volunteers in the campaign. The road map of NSS activities would be prepared keeping in view the provisions of the MoU, said he.
1 Issue of directive from Department of Youth Affairs to NSS and NYKS for supporting HIV/AIDs prevention activity in collaboration with State AIDs Control Society in respective States.
2 Deputation of a nodal officer from Department of Youth Affairs to coordinate HIV activities with Department of AIDs Control.
3 Reduction of stigma and discrimination against vulnerable population and persons infected with HIV/AIDs.