Manoj Godara, 1st December: “WALK AGAINST AIDS” was organized with a goal to mobilize the community to become aware of a shared concern and common need, to take action to bring about a social change, so that HIV transmission is reduced.
Around 1100 people from all walks of life participated in this walk which was held in the urban slums of Burail/Sector 45, Chandigarh. The huge colourful procession was formed by Students from Red Ribbon Clubs, Government and Private Doctors, Lions Club, Nurses, NGOs, People from High Risk Group and People Living with HIV/AIDS. Accompanying them were beautiful floats depicting modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS and the condom promotion van with live puppet show. Pamphlets were distributed to the public on the way and slogans on the theme “Universal Access and Human Rights” were raised.
Sh. Ram Niwas, IAS, Secretary Health, Chandigarh Administration was the Chief Guest at the concluding function. He said that in Chandigarh, while adult HIV prevalence among general population is 0.25% as against the national prevalence of 0.36%, High Risk Groups inevitably show higher numbers. It is 0.4% among Female Sex Workers, 7.4% among ID Users and 3.6% among Males Having Sex with Males. 0.25% of pregnant women are HIV positive. He remarked that as most of the load of AIDS cases taking treatment in ART centre, PGIMER was from the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab, and a large number of this infection was among Intravenous Drug Users, AIDS Control activities should be collaborated with prevention of Drug Addiction activities also.
Dr. M.S. Bains, Director Health Services, Chandigarh Administration said that it is crucial to continue awareness activities on HIV/AIDS. In order to decline the HIV epidemic, Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society has 11 ICTC centres where free counseling and testing services are available. There are 19 free STI clinics and 127 Private Practitioners have also been trained to treat these diseases. Free condoms are available at various depots in the city and 22 Condom Vending Machines provide Deluxe Condoms. 13 special Target Intervention Projects are reaching out to the High Risk Groups of Female Sex Workers, Male Having Sex with Males, Intravenous Drug Users and Migrants. 4 licensed Blood Banks provide safe blood. The ART Centre, PGIMER Chandigarh and Community Care Centre in Khuda Alisher give free treatment and boarding/lodging. There are about 4360 AIDS cases registered with the ART Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh of which 1528 are on active treatment. Out of these 296 belong to the local population and 32% are women and 7.4% are children.
Dr. Vanita Gupta, Project Director, Chandigarh AIDS Control Society while expressing special thanks to the large gathering for their participation remarked that it was encouraging to see that people from different walks of life, from target slum areas, high risk groups, People Living with HIV/AIDS, students of colleges, care givers were all mingling and freely exchanging views. Blankets were distributed to the Chandigarh Network of Positive People.
A large number of participants performed on the stage and gave messages on HIV/AIDS.