Regional consultations that will shape the country's HIV response for the next five years and facilitate the formulation of the IV five-year plan of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) began here on Sunday.

The NACP-IV being prepared by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is an emerging document that will seal the fate of HIV prevention programme in the country for the next five years.

More than 100 high-level delegates, including 50 sex workers, 20 people living with HIV and 25 experts and implementing NGO and Civil Society partners, from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry participated in the meet held at different locations in the city.

Recommendations

HIV activist and physician Sundar Sundararaman, who is also a member of the national core group that initiated the NACP consultation, told presspersons that the final recommendations would be submitted to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on June 23. “We will ensure that the recommendations are incorporated in the NACP-IV policy document. Or, we will take it up with the World Bank and UNAIDS that are sanctioning funds for HIV/AIDS control,” he said.

Pointing out that NACO had been forced to initiate the process of designing NACP-IV, Dr. Sundararaman said: “In the absence of a strategy document, civil society organisations which held a national consultation on May 12 in New Delhi recommended to NACO to make the process participatory and meaningful.” “We have made NACO to hold five regional consultations of civil society organisations and community groups in the northern, southern, western, eastern and north-eastern parts of the country. Civil society groups also felt that a systematic process of consultation with the affected communities did not take place this year as was the case with the last plan NACP-III,” he said.

On Sunday, the meetings were held at three venues in the city under the umbrella of Indian Network of Sex Workers (INSW), IPACHA and Positive Women's Network.

The Consultation for Sexuality Minorities will be held on Monday while the Injecting Drug Users consultation is shifted to Kochi. The others are being held at Guwahati, Kolkata, Delhi and Pune for north-east, east, north and west regions.

Several representatives from the community, who spoke to the media, said it was important for NACO to involve the community members in the process of decision-making at all levels.

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