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New initiatives to combat spread of HIV launched

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Staff Reporter

Seminars, public meetings held on World AIDS Day

Thiruvananthapuram: Folk arts show, candlelight vigil, painting competitions and public meetings marked the observance of World AIDS Day in the city on Friday, with various voluntary organisations and the Health Department taking the lead in spreading the message of HIV prevention.

Various folk art groups performed on a common platform at the Martyrs Column in the morning to convey messages on several issues related to HIV such as abstinence from unsafe sex, issues of stigma and discrimination faced by HIV-infected people and the services available to the HIV-infected.

The Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS) is planning to empanel some of these groups to organise HIV awareness campaigns across the State as part of its efforts to take the message of HIV prevention to the community at the grassroots level.

The KSACS organised an awareness seminar on HIV for adolescents at St. Mary's HSS here. KSACS officials also visited the Raj Bhavan and pinned the Red Ribbon, a global symbol of the fight against AIDS, on Governor R.L. Bhatia.

In his AIDS Day message, Mr. Bhatia called for massive awareness campaigns at various levels in the community to prevent the spread of the infection.

At a public meeting organised in the city, Minister for Health P.K. Sreemathy inaugurated two new major initiatives being taken up by the State as part of the strategies to combat the spread of HIV.

Targeted intervention programmes will now be carried out at the grama panchayat level with the help of Kudumbasree volunteers. Health inspectors, who have been given intensive training on HIV counselling and other services, are being deployed in 28 grama panchayats in the State in the first phase to create awareness at the micro level on the services available for treating sexually transmitted diseases and HIV testing.

Another initiative which was inaugurated on Friday was a campaign at the grassroots level to put an end to the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. Karakulam grama panchayat became the first in the State to take up a concerted campaign with the help of the Kudumbasree network to change the perception of the people about the HIV-infected.

Over 100 school children participated in a poster-making contest organised by the Indian Medical Organisation.

As part of a KSACS-supported project run by Maithri, a non-Governmental organisation, candles were lit in hundreds of houses at Valiasala to generate awareness of the day.

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