Festive rush puts NGOs fighting HIV on toes

Anuradha Mascarenhas
Posted: Sep 06, 2011 at 0403 hrs IST

Pune: Over the past few days, a surge in demand for contraceptives has been seen by NGOs working to prevent HIV/AIDS in the city, who say it’s a good sign as far as prevention of the disease is concerned. They are trying to meet the demand and have placed the new requirements with Pathfinder International that works along with Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) to distribute condoms in the city.

The demand is being attributed to an increase in number of visitors to the red light area located at Budhwar Peth, along with the rush of people from neighbouring places and districts for the festive season.

Tejasvi Sevekari of Saheli, working for welfare of female sex workers, said “We have a target group of 1,000 and in the last fortnight distributed 3 lakh condoms. The demand for female contraceptives has remained almost the same.”

Four NGOs are creating AIDS awareness and HIV prevention in the city and distributing condoms. Seema Waghmode of Kayakalp said 5,000 condoms have been distributed in the last few days. Pradeep Dalvi of Akhil Bharatiya Devdaasi Sanghatana said demand has nearly doubled. “A recent survey shows approximately 3,500 female sex workers and around 1,000 men having sex with men in Budhwar Peth and surrounding areas.”

John Paul Slum Development in-charge George Swamy also condom demand had shot up among brothel-based female sex workers Dr Dilip Deshmukh, Additional Director of MSACS, several large cities get a fair share of people from neighbouring towns and there is a general trend of increase in demand for condoms.

Officials said procurement of condoms for Maharashtra from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was 52 million for 2011-2012 as against last year’s 39 million.

“In Pune, prevalence of HIV infection is 0.7 per cent in the general population,” says Dr R R Bamble, in-charge of the PMC-run Pune AIDS Control Society. The civic body has allocated Rs 15 lakh for creating awareness and distributing around two lakh condoms. “During Ganesh festival, street plays are performed at prominent mandals,” says Bamble pointing out that the focus is on educating the migrant population.

Source : Indian Express

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