Staff Reporter

‘The more you try to hide, the more disastrous it will be’

‘Do not focus only on sex workers ’

Percentage of AIDS-affected is 1.67 in Karnataka

BANGALORE: Minister for Health and Family Welfare R. Ashok on Tuesday advocated the need for open discussions on public platforms about the ill effects of HIV so as to create greater public awareness.

“The more you try to hide, the more disastrous will be the ill effects of HIV,” he said.

He was launching Connect, a project to mobilise public-private partnership to address HIV/AIDS in Karnataka by Population Services International (PSI) supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) here.

“The mention of HIV/AIDS takes us to commercial sex workers and we undertake a number of programmes for these workers. However, focusing only on sex workers does not contain its spread. The campaign should be taken to every workplace, factory, establishment and offices for greater awareness,” Mr. Ashok said.

The State Government had been doing its best to contain the spread of the disorder and create awareness. Mere allocation of funds had not served the purpose and the role of non-governmental organisations and other organisations became significant in this regard, he said.

Mr. Ashok said the percentage of HIV/AIDS affected people had come down in Karnataka from 2 to 1.65 in the recent past.

Connect, launched by PSI, would address HIV/AIDS in Karnataka and coastal Andhra Pradesh.

While USAID had provided the initial financial support, other prominent partners implementing the project include the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education and the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust.

The International Labour Organisation is a technical support partner of the project.

In advance of the event, George Deikun, USAID Mission Director, affirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to fight HIV/AIDS in India.

He said Connect supported the Centre’s strategy to encourage private sector involvement in the programme. A key focus of the project was to mobilise and support companies to implement HIV/AIDS training programme for their own staff as well as to develop a HIV/AIDS workplace-policy for their workforce.