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Awareness tour: Students looking at an exhibit inside the Red Ribbon Express in Tirunelveli on Saturday.
Awareness tour: Students looking at an exhibit inside the Red Ribbon Express in Tirunelveli on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

Red Ribbon Express chugs into Tirunelveli with a caring message

TIRUNELVELI: Carrying anti-HIV/AIDS messages and the volunteers disseminating all information about the dreaded disease to create awareness among the rural masses, the Red Ribbon Express arrived here on Saturday.

Presiding over the function conducted at Tirunelveli Railway Junction to mark the arrival of this specially designed train with seven coaches, District Collector (In-Charge), G. Srinivasan said that though the country was housing more number of diabetics than any other nation, more importance was being attached by all government and private agencies for disseminating information about HIV/AIDS.

“The country, now has 26 lakh people affected by HIV/AIDS. This trend can be checked only by creating awareness about this disease among the public, particularly among the younger generation, the most vulnerable section. The youths should vow not to allow anymore fresh infections in the country by telling others the facts about HIV/AIDS. The Red Ribbon Express can play a greater role in creating awareness about this serious illness,” Mr. Srinivasan said.

Besides appealing to everyone to visit the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres created across the district, the Joint Director (Health Services), Tenkasi, P. Nedunchezhiyan said the infected people should get Anti-Retroviral Therapy from the ART centres established in select hospitals. Moreover, they could also get proper psychotherapy from the experts in the counselling centres and take the ART medicine to prolong their life.

Tirunelveli MP R. Dhanushkodi Adityan, state director of Nehru Yuva Kendra M. Sadacharavel, Assistant Director (Health Services), K.A. Meera Mohideen, and others spoke.

The train itself is a mobile education and exhibition centre, as the first three coaches, with the help of interactive touch screens and 3D models, give the visitor a clear view on HIV / AIDS. It has its own conference hall in the fourth coach to host education sessions for ‘anganwadi’ workers, self-help groups and non - governmental organizations. The fifth coach has six cabins for counselling and medical services and the remaining two coaches have been reserved for the artistes.

Six performing teams, each with 10 artistes, also coming with the train on a fleet of bicycles will visit 48 villages of the district. They will stage plays and skits on avoiding and checking HIV infection and fighting AIDS stigma and discrimination.

Artistes will campaign at Pettai, Karunkaadu, Narasinganallur, Thiruppanikarisalkulam, Sethuraayanputhur, Karambai, Maanur, Kaanaarpatti, Perumalpuram, NGO ‘A’ Colony, Thiyagaraja Nagar, Sivanthipatti, Naranammalpuram, Keezha Paalaamadai, Rajavallipuram, Shankar Nagar, Ponnaakudi Samaththuvapuram, Sengulam, Thidiyoor, Tharuvai, Shanthi Nagar, Chettikulam, Naduvaikurichi and Konganthanallur on June 21 through street plays and skits.

Nadukkallur, Pazhavoor, Kondaanagaram, Suththamalli, Kattaarankulam, Azhagiyapaandiyapuram, Vaagaikulam, Reddiyarpatti, Paruththipaadu, Maruthakulam, Konganthaanpaarai, Reddiyarpatti, South Chezhiyanallur, Alavanthaankulam, Thenkalaam, Naanjaankulam, Munneerpallam, Karunkulam, Melapalayam, Kulavanigarpuram, Seevalaperi, Keezhapaattam, Thirumalaikozhunthupuram and Palayamkottai Market will witness the cultural programmes on June 22.

Two exhibition buses coming along with the train will visit Alangulam, Tenkasi and Kadayam on June 21 and Ambasamudram, Cheranmahadevi and Valliyoor on the next day to disseminate ideas on the dreaded disease.

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