Prevent AIDS through education: Manmohan

Issue particularly close to my heart: Sonia

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that in the absence of a preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS, the social vaccine of "education and awareness" was the only effective method of prevention.

In a message to the 7th International Congress on HIV/AIDS in Asia and Pacific currently being held in Kobe, Japan, Dr. Singh said there was a need to put an end to the three `Ss' — silence, stigma and shame — associated with HIV/AIDS and make available to the youth what they need most: information, knowledge and services.

HIV/AIDS is no longer just a public health issue but has become one of the most serious socio-economic and developmental concerns, he said in the message read out in the Congress by Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Panabaka Lakshmi.

In a separate message, National Advisory Council chairperson Sonia Gandhi has said that HIV/AIDS was an issue that was particularly close to her heart. "Apart from my keen involvement in our Government's initiatives to combat this cruel disease, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has also been actively engaged in AIDS control efforts for over a decade", she said.

Earlier, speaking at the meet, Ms. Lakshmi said that a multi-sectoral approach had been the essence of the Government policies. She talked about the Government's strong political commitment towards strengthening the National AIDS control efforts and said that this had been bolstered with the establishment of Parliamentary forums at the Centre and the States.

She said a strong thrust had been given to the AIDS control efforts by the setting up of the National AIDS Council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

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