Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: The Red Ribbon Express, which has been carrying around messages on prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, is coming to Kerala again. The train, which reaches Kasaragod on February 23, will complete its tour in Kerala at Karunagapally on March 12.

The Red Ribbon Express will stop at Kasaragod, Kannur, Tirur, Palakkad, Thrissur, Aluva, Ernakulam South, Kayamkulam and Karunagapally stations and will halt for two days at each station. Two ‘Life Buses,’ carrying HIV prevention messages and a cultural troupe, will travel to rural locations where the Red Ribbon Express cannot reach.

These artists’ groups will visit at least three centres and present various cultural programmes, which essentially convey awareness messages on HIV. HIV-positive persons will share his or her own experiences with the community and address issues like social stigma as part of awareness generation.

The Red Ribbon Express started its journey on the World AIDS Day, December 1, from New Delhi. Apart from creating awareness on the preventing HIV infection, the train has lot of information about the services available for HIV-infected for testing, counselling, treatment and support services.

It also focuses on issues like reducing the stigma faced by the HIV-infected and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and clean personal habits.

The 10-coach train has facilities for medical testing and counselling.

Jyothis centres will be set up at stations where the train halts and those who wish to do HIV testing can make use of this facility.

One coach will carry messages on public health, prevention of various infectious diseases like H1N1, hygiene and sanitation, courtesy the National Rural Health Mission. The Red Ribbon campaign, formulated by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, is being carried out with the help of National AIDS Control Organisation, Kerala State AIDS Control Society, NRHM, Nehru Yuva Kendra, the Health, Social Welfare and Education departments.

A State-level committee has been set up for managing the Kerala tour of Red Ribbon Express.

The Collectors of districts to be visited by the Red Ribbon Express have been asked to coordinate the event.