There is no safe and effective vaccine for prevention of the dreaded Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) even after three decades of its first detection.

The best available method is awareness about the disease and the methods to control its spread, speakers opined at the inaugural of an awareness rally.

The rally was organised in connection with World AIDS Day on Wednesday. Colourfully decorated bullock carts with AIDS awareness messages, schoolchildren carrying banners and flags drew the attention of passers-by on the Old Jail Road.

In his message before flagging off the rally, Vice Admiral Anup Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, said that the biggest problem with AIDS was that nearly one-tenth of those affected by the disease were children. The myths among the public about the disease could be dispelled only by spreading awareness.

Appreciating the services noted physician Kutikuppala Surya Rao, the Vice Admiral said that the greatest religion of mankind was helping others in need. The need of the hour was not to shun patients but to treat them with compassion.

He was all praise for the tastefully decorated bullock carts that were sure to catch the attention of the city folk.

Arogyasri coverage

Convener of the Forum for Better Visakha E.A.S. Sarma said that the prevalence of AIDS was more in North Andhra.

He called for greater awareness on the need to take preventive measures and on the remedies available after the disease strikes a patient. He also advocated adherence to moral values to check the spread of the disease.

He appealed to Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to announce the coverage of AIDS under Arogyasri for the benefit of patients on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Dr. Surya Rao, who has been working in the area of AIDS awareness for several years, said that bullock carts would be used to spread the message in rural areas. He called for spreading the message among youth.

Rani Sarma of INTACH also participated in the programme.

The Vice Admiral released a brochure brought out on the occasion and flagged off the awareness rally taken out by schoolchildren. Later, replying to a query, Vice Admiral Anup Singh ruled out the apprehensions that HIV could be used as a biological weapon by some nations to spread the disease to target their enemies. “It's only irresponsible nations that can think of such a thing,” he said.

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