Jayashree Muralidharan, Collector, gave away assistance worth Rs. 6.34 lakh to a total of 317 children living with HIV at the World AIDS Day programme held at the collectorate on Tuesday. Each child received Rs. 2,000 as financial assistance towards education.

Ms. Muralidharan said that people with HIV should not be treated with contempt, but they must be protected and supported by society. Quoting figures, she said that the percentage of people affected with HIV in Tiruchi district had decreased over a period of six years. “In 2005, 11 per cent of people and 0.66 per cent of pregnant women were affected with HIV, but this year, there are 1.01 per cent of people and 0.11 per cent of pregnant women with HIV,” she said. Last year, there were 61 HIV positive pregnant women in the district, but this year so far, there are only 38 pregnant women, who are HIV positive. After treatment and delivery, it was found that all the children were normal. The Collector said that joint efforts by the government and private hospitals, NGOs, and the public could bring in a HIV-free society. She gave away prizes to nine schoolchildren, who had won in elocution, slogan, and drawing competitions organised on life skills recently.