Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: Though he is barely six, Kamal fully understands the cause for which he was campaigning. He was among the hundreds gathered at Gandhi statue near the Race Course in Bangalore on Tuesday to raise their voice for “Nutritious Food for People Living with HIV” on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Kamal, who is HIV positive, knows that good food can help people living with HIV (PLHIV) lead a long, healthy and productive life.

And also that HIV is a growing crisis for affected children.

The demonstration, organised by Bangalore HIV and AIDS Forum (BHAF), saw the protesters shout slogans against the Government for turning a blind eye to the nutritional requirements of HIV positive patients.

Comprising organisations such as ActionAid, APSA Foundation, Milana and Arunodaya, BHAF has been working for access to rights for PLHIV in the State.

The BHAF is an alliance of NGOs and individuals fighting for the rights of the PLHIV in Karnataka and has been campaigning for provision of nutritious food for PLHIV for the past year and a half.

“We provide nutrition twice a week to those on Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) services at the Bowring and Victoria Hospitals. We cannot go on like this.

The Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) and the Government need to come forward.

In spite of repeated requests and notifications, the Government has not done anything for the PLHIVs,” said William Christopher, the organiser of the protest.

“Children are the worst affected. Orphans and vulnerable children are often neglected and of the 2.5 lakh PLHIV in Karnataka, they account for over 20 per cent,” said Vishaka T.S. of APSA Foundation, Bangalore, one of the members of the BHAF.

“We demand that all children infected or affected by HIV and AIDS have a childhood free from stigma and discrimination. They also need to have access to quality education and the unrestricted right to inheritance,” she said.