Effort to curb HIV/AIDS in India

ndian scenario, new trends, efforts to curbThe HIV/AIDS incidence in India is a cause of concern. About 4.58 million adults in the country are estimated to be infected with the disease. The infection is not just confined to high-risk groups and the trend is to spread from urban to rural communities. The government of India has given high priority to prevent the epidemic and several organisations are engaged in various activities.

The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), with a network of 650 district branches, is in a unique position to curb the spread of the infection. Recently, the IRCS is piloting a project which is geared to supporting HIV+ women and pre-school children of HIV+ families, preventing the spread in communities and addressing stigma in the society. The projectThe project is in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu state. Namakkal is well known for truck industries, poultry and associated commercial activities. The truck drivers and the migrant casual workers, predominantly in the villages, are transmitting HIV infection to their women partners.

The project has three vital components, Care and Support to HIV positive women and pre-school children of HIV positive families; Prevention in the communities through self-help groups; and, Addressing Stigma in the society in general. The community centre for the purpose caters children of HIV positive families as a play group centre; also, is a drop-in point for HIV+ women. Key features of the project are involvement of individuals of social importance, HIV+ staff, and forming self-help groups in villages. Lessons learnt: Although in its early stage, the pilot project is a good model to address HIV/AIDS. In order to reach communities, addressing stigma with innovative and multi-approach is vital.

The HIV prevalence is perhaps much higher than the recorded data. Conclusion The alarming trend of the spread in rural communities entails stepping up of programmes with comprehensive community approach.

Uday Vikram, for WordPress.com

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