Youth take oath to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS
More than 150 people from Malwa and Nimar districts took an oath to help spread awareness about AIDS.
“Should HIV/AIDS issues be taught in schools? What can the youth do to contribute to the cause?” were some of the questions raised by participants at the two-day anti-HIV/AIDS youth meet organised by UNICEF and Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (MPVHA) in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The youngsters coined slogans for helping spread awareness.
Western MP, especially 14 districts of Malwa and Nimar regions (which touch commercial areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat), are highly susceptible to AIDS. Of the 1,524 known cases of AIDS in the state, 1,080 have been reported from these districts—with Indore and Ujjain topping the list with 419 and 275 cases respectively.
Khargone follows them with 74 cases, Dhar with 70 cases, Dewas with 66, Shajapur with 67 and Khandwa with 37. All over the state, the number of AIDS patients is increasing by the day with 205 fresh cases being reported in 2004 as against 143 in 2003. As of date there are approximately 1,662 AIDS cases in Madhya Pradesh.
Experts who participated in the meet opined that the fundamental challenge in controlling HIV/AIDS is in getting the right information to the people, especially the younger section of the populace.
“The challenge is not in merely disseminating information, but in doing it in a manner that not only entertains but also educates people about issues, creates favourable attitudes, shifts social norms and helps generate a positive response”, they said.
State AIDS Control Society Project director Salina Singh, who was the chief guest, said, “Young people can make a difference as they can convey the message to their peers. Right information is the key.”
Addressing the gathering, UNICEF communication officer Anil Gulati said, “We are here for a mission to check the spread of virus in our country. Knowledge is power and we need to empower ourselves. What is more disturbing was that it was engulfing the 'productive population' in the age group of 20-40 years. The numbers of patients under this age group is 1,080”
Among the participants was Pushpinderpal Singh from the Bhopal-based Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism. “Majority HIV positive cases go unreported as infected people refuse to take tests and don’t accept that they may be afflicted. They would rather wait for the disease to get converted into full-blown AIDS before accepting the reality,” he said.
MPVHA Executive Director Mukesh Sinha emphasised on the work being undertaken by the civil society organisation on HIV/AIDS. Fox Kids TV series Anchor Ajay Nagrath was present to advocate the cause.
By Sanjay Sharma in Bhopal at www.sify.com Saturday, 11 February , 2006, 09:56