South India is not faring any better

Mumbai: It’s not just the Mumbai-based NGOs that are getting the stick. Several groups in South India, which aim  to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, are facing flak for not practising what they preach.

Source: DNA, reprinted at Indiainfo

If a study conducted by Netherlands-based NGO Stop AIDS Now (San) is to be believed, NGOs meant to educated corporates and masses about HIV/AIDS are ignorant, even insensitive about the issues and towards the people they are dealing with.

The study, conducted across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu on 45 NGOs working in AIDS awareness, education, poverty alleviation, and eradication of child labour, found that most  NGOs did not have a policy to deal with HIV/AIDS-affected staff at the workplace.

“It was shocking to find that most staff at these NGOs was under the influence of the commoner’s belief that AIDS spreads only through sexual intercourse and hence their attitude came as a blockage for bias-free work among the affected,” said Saud Akhtar, India-based programme coordinator for San.

“Today, everyone is vulnerable to AIDS, not just people who are in the flesh trade. Our experiences in Africa suggest that early intervention has been negated by lack of skilled and experienced staff. Only three out of the 45 NGOs we surveyed in India had enforced an effective workplace policy,” Akhtar explained.

Sangama, one of the 45 NGOs, which targets the high-risk community of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals, concentrated only on fighting for the rights of the community.
“We did not even think of HIV/AIDS prevention through a workplace policy till San approached us. After eight years of forming the group, we have begun thinking of documenting a policy,” said Reginal Watts, executive director of Sangama in Bangalore.

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