Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi on Monday launched the third phase of a new media campaign to spread awareness about ‘Nambikkai Maiyam’ or counselling and testing centres for HIV in the State.

Mr. Sripathi flagged off vans that will go from village to village in the State over the next 32 days, providing information about counselling and testing centres. Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj, and Special Secretary, Health, S. Vijayakumar were present.

Dillu Dura is the star of the campaign, a mascot that takes the message of the need to test oneself to high-risk groups and the general population as well. Dillu Dura is the ambassador for the counselling and testing centres, now re-branded Nambikkai Maiyam.

The campaign spreads the message that those who are at risk of contracting the infection must approach one of these centres.

The campaign comprises three phases, beginning with the teaser and moving on to a direct message pointing towards the Nambikkai Maiyam. A total of Rs.1.33 crore has been allocated for the campaign, Shambu Kallolikar, project director, TANSACS, told reporters.

Currently, just over 27 lakh persons visit the centres every year, which is only two-thirds of the population estimated to be infected with HIV. “We need the remaining [from the high-risk groups] also to come for tests to the centres. They should feel comfortable about coming for a test and rest assured that confidentiality will be preserved,” he said.

The vans will cruise several districts, about 200 colleges and with the help of TANSACS partners — NGOs and positive people’s networks — convey the message, according to Bimal Charles, project director, AIDS Prevention and Control Project-Voluntary Health Services.

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