Let it not remain as one another AIDS day, and let’s make strong resolution for the state this day.
December 1 across India and world is marked as World Aids Day. Madhya Pradesh, central part of India will also hosts number of functions and events in its capital city Bhopal and many other districts to mark this day. Madhya Pradesh was earlier classified as HIV low prevalence state in India by National Aids Control Organization on the levels of HIV prevalence in the state which has now being reclassified as ‘high risk’. Whatever term is used, more than the term the fact is that more than 11,500 persons living with HIV are within the state. This figure has a basis and it is based on the surveillance data as shared in the recently held (Nov 21 & 22, 2007) State Level meeting on HIV/AIDS by Madhya Pradesh State Aids Control Society. There could be a debate on this data too by many in civil society as it is based on the estimates collated from government hospitals and many a times misses out people which depend on the private sector. But without entering into that debate for many of us, these numbers are not just numbers but are families which get impacted by this virus. And out of these only 1300 as of now are being able to avail the support of Anti Retroviral Therapy i.e. drug treatment being offered by the State’s in its two medical collages of Indore and Jabalpur. May be not all need as this is decided by the medical professionals and it should be given under their medical supervision only but may be many more be needing it, may be this could be one resolve to understand and provide for the treatment, care and support of all persons living with HIV in the state, not just few, for namesake. This should be first resolve.
Many seminars, rallies, events are conducted to mark this day which aid in spreading awareness on the issue, which is needed. But more importantly then these events, this momentum which is seen on this day should not remains limited to one day and need would be to let this talk and focus on the issue flow after December 1st. As of now it remains within realm of World Aids day; What after it ? We are way behind a time when this is mainstreamed and is integral part of programmes being managed by various sectoral departments like health, women and child development, social welfare, Panchayati Raj not only limited to State Aids Control Society. One of the major objectives to mark this day is to bring attention of people and media to the issue and raise concern for increased focus on the issue. But we in our state are way behind on this front, may be our second resolve is to keep the discussion going on the topic. The discussion is far behind the levels when it can be debated normally within communities in the state. Stigma, discriminations and hype which get associated with it, both positive and negative make it a topic of few. Probably that is the reason many have expressed cynicism when we talk on this issue, which will wean away slowly but if the debate on the HIV happens within larger spectrum and with much more openness. There is not only lack of access and understanding of right information on the issue only within the departments but even within those who make decisions, both at state and local level, which needs to be strengthened.
Third resolve could be to help make sure that right formation reach all, meaning all especially communities in interiors of the state in the language and manner which is simple and easy to understand. National family heath Survey data reveals that in Madhya Pradesh only 45.3 % women and 68.3 % men had ‘heard’ (please mark the word) about AIDS in the state, and if one looks at urban / rural bifurcation this level of awareness is still limited to urban areas indicating need to strengthen efforts of communication so that we can reach at least certain level of acceptable information in the state. May be that should be our third resolve.
There is lot of talk on awareness but may be the above three resolves tried to look beyond the same and if put practice with commitment will help us fight with the spread of virus by engaging all, which is needed as of today.
Contributed by Anil