Discrimination of HIV-afflicted people must be prevented. They must be mainstreamed in the society through equal opportunities. Shunning HIV affected people, particularly children in need of education, constitutes social injustice.

These were among the points emphasised by speakers at a function organised by the People’s Development Initiatives (PDI) to observe World AIDS Day with the theme ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’, on Wednesday.

The rise in HIV incidence is a worrisome factor. The disdain with which HIV-afflicted people, particularly women, are treated in the society is of graver concern. It is unfortunate that aspersions are cast on innocent women on whom the disease is transmitted by their partners, said K. Salma, Chairperson, Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board, calling for acceleration of sensitisation programmes. A medical certificate must be made a pre-requisite for solemnising marriages, Ms. Salma emphasised presiding over the function.

The Government was keen on rooting out the disease. Had the enormous funding for containing it been utilised well, substantial progress could have been achieved, she said, urging non-government organisations to realise their responsibilities and emulate organisations like PDI. Instances of people shedding their diffidence and coming forward to acknowledge their affliction with HIV reflected the self-confidence accruing from the awareness initiatives. Ms. Salma distributed medical kits containing drugs and aids for self-medication to the participants on the occasion in the presence of the Joint Director of Medical and Rural Health Services M. Poongothai, Chief Functionary of PDI I. Ambalavanan and District Supervisor of Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre R. Selvakumar.

Dr. Poongothai urged NGOs to accelerate their efforts to identify AIDS patients and sensitise them to the treatment avenues so as to mainstream them in the society.

Secrecy

Facilities have been created at all primary health centres and taluk hospitals to test pregnant women. The staff maintain secrecy in the process of preventing affliction of the disease from an infected women to a newborn, she said.

Mr. Selvakumar said the district administration was according priority for the welfare of HIV affected people by holding special grievance redressal programmes.