Coordinated response alone can counter AIDS, says Minister

Jaipal Reddy

Jaipal Reddy  

The pandemic is closer to us than we thought: Jaipal Reddy

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Union Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy on Thursday called for an unprecedented response from all sections to the AIDS challenge.

Unless this was forthcoming, India's giant strides in economic buoyancy, technological advance and social justice and aspirations for global leadershipcould come to naught, he said delivering the keynote address at the Indian Media Leaders HIV/AIDS Initiative meet here.

HIV/AIDS was much more than a health issue. The factors driving the epidemic in India covered a range of social, economic and development issues. "Only a coordinated national response can offset the looming threat. Through a unified, strong and continuous leadership from all sectors we will have a better chance in succeeding in preventing the spread of HIV and mitigating its impact."

The AIDS pandemic was closer to us than we thought. It bred on ignorance, silence and inaction. The media had a significant role to play in shaping public opinion and creating an environment supportive of HIV prevention, care and treatment. "Media can help India fight ignorance, silence and inaction. Consistent and accurate information must be accessible to all and this information needs to be open and honest so that people could make choices.''

The media could change the stereotyped reporting on AIDS, and portray it as an issue relevant to every citizen.

The percentage of people living with AIDS in India was around one.

But keeping the other 99 per cent safe was a challenge, which could not be met without media support.

Expressing concern over villagers becoming increasingly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, the Minister said though there was an improvement in awareness, national surveys showed that not even half of rural India knew about AIDS.

"Those who are aware have incomplete knowledge about how to protect themselves and worse, many have no access to the support services that can help them turn this knowledge into practice.''

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