This year's edition of the Red Ribbon Express carrying messages about the prevention of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria will traverse 10 districts in the State between May 9 and 30.

The eight-coach train is scheduled to reach Kanyakumari from Thiruvananthapuram on May 9. The Red Ribbon Express is expected to roll into Chennai Central on May 27.

The Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) is gearing up to maximise public patronage of the express train.

A State-level coordination committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to oversee preparations across the State.

TANSACS will organise folk media campaigns about the express train in the districts where it will be stationed. A rally involving women's self help groups and Nehru Yuva Kendra volunteers is proposed to be taken out a couple of days prior to the arrival of the train in each district.

Railway stations where the express will be stationed are also being spruced up under the supervision of district-level coordination panels headed by District Collectors.

According to the itinerary, the Red Ribbon Express will be in Kanyakumari (May 9-10), Tirunelveli (May 11-12), Dindigul (May 13-14), Karur (May 15-16), Ramanathapuram (May 19-20), Sivaganga (May 21-22), Nagapattinam (May 23-24) and Vellore Cantonment (May 26).

The train was flagged off from New Delhi on January 12 to commemorate National Youth Day.

The Red Ribbon Express is an initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to disseminate awareness about communicable diseases, especially HIV/AIDS among the rural population.

Each of the coaches of the express train will highlight different aspects of communicable diseases.

The first coach will have display-boards, touch-screens and 3-D models on bio-medical aspects of HIV/AIDS. The second will feature educational material with focus on HIV/AIDS and associated care, support and treatment. The third will focus on HIV within the socio-developmental context to promote an environment free of stigma and discrimination.

The fourth coach will display information on general health, hygiene and communicable diseases such as swine flu. The fifth coach will double up as a conference hall, where representatives from panchayati raj institutions and self-help groups will be provided orientation in batches of 60.

The sixth coach will be split into six cabins where counselling and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections and Reproductory Tract Infections will be rendered. The seventh and eighth coaches are for officials accompanying the train.