The tragedy is that their condition is not self-inflicted. If you want to have an idea what children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS go through, check out the premises of the All Saints Church near Vellara Junction in the city before 8 p.m. on Wednesday. It is a powerfully emotional experience to see what the young, whose life should hold roses and promises ahead, have been forced to settle for instead.
To advocate the issue of orphan and vulnerable children in Karnataka and to sensitise the community on HIV/AIDS, World Vision India, a non-governmental organisation, has put up two interactive huts on the church premises. Called One Life Experience, these huts communicate to the visitors through images and an audio tour what vulnerable children go through.
“The idea is to make visitors experience the impact of HIV/AIDS by stepping into the life of a real child,” said Jeshurun Sunil Rajan from World Vision India.
Visitors are given an iPod that has the voice of a narrator guiding them through the life of an affected child and in the process convey the impact of the crisis on the helpless child.
R.R Jannu, Project Director, Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS), who inaugurated the campaign on Tuesday, said Bangalore was one of the 10 high-prevalence districts in Karnataka. “We plan to replicate the campaign in different parts of the city. We will partner with schools, colleges, government organisations, malls and other facilities where the community footfall is high,” he said.
The KSAPS will start providing nutrition to all people living with HIV/AIDS in the State from the coming financial year. “Even if the infected people have access to medicines, it is of no use if they don't get adequate nutrition. We are planning to start providing micro nutrients (dietary supplements) to them. This scheme may require at least Rs. 3 crore annually. It will be implemented either through the State's budgetary allocation or through the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM),” Mr. Jannu said.
Fear of stigma
Speaking to presspersons on the sidelines, Mr. Jannu said the demand by HIV-positive people that the Government should stop the involvement of village health and sanitation committees and village panchayats in providing support to children infected/affected by HIV would be “looked into”.
“There is a grouse that this system of providing support would result in more discrimination and stigma. If that is the case, we can look into it,” he added.