Through karagattam, oyilattam, kummi, street plays and puppet shows, information on HIV/AIDS will be disseminated in rural areas

A four-day workshop to help folk artistes, who are involved in the campaign against HIV/AIDS, deliver a sharper message to the rural masses and attract a larger audience, began on the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus in Coimbatore on Tuesday.

Organised by Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), the workshop attracted 120 artistes and 11 master trainers from 16 districts including Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Madurai, the Nilgiris and Coimbatore. The remaining districts will be covered in the next phase. Each troupe consists of seven performers and a musician. Free blood tests for HIV/AIDS will be done in a propaganda van that will accompany them to the villages. Through ‘karagattam,’ ‘oyilattam’ ‘kummi,’ street plays and puppet shows, information on HIV/AIDS will be disseminated in rural areas.

The artistes are being taught magic tricks and how to tighten the scripts to attract more people towards their performances, says Rajendra Ratnoo, TANSACS Project Director.

A master trainer in magic tricks, Naga Bhooshanam from Karnataka, conducted a session and trained a few artistes to perform some tricks. The State Government is looking to achieve the World Health Organisation objective of ‘zero new infection, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination,’ he adds.

The artistes will focus on Sexually Transmitted Infections and Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission Centre, besides providing the locations for Integrated Testing and Counselling Centres for HIV/AIDS patients.

Sanchali Roy, Consultant (IEC), Department of AIDS Control, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), told the artistes that funds for such programmes had been increased in the National AIDS Control Project (NACP)-4, which would be launched shortly.

Vijayan Raghavan, Deputy Director (Song and Drama Division), TANSACS, and B. Mohamed Ali, District Programme Manager (District AIDS Prevention Control Unit), took part.

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