Barnala commends hard work put in by AIDS project

RELEASE: Governor Surjit Singh Barnala releasing the IEC Materials at a World AIDS Day function in Chennai on Thursday. From left: David T. Hooper, Consul-General of U.S., P. Krishnamurthy, Project Director, APAC-VHS, N. S. Murali, Honarary Secretary , VHS and S. P. Thyagarajan, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University. — Photo: K. V. Srinivasan  

Special Correspondent

Chennai: On the occasion of World AIDS Day on Thursday, Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala congratulated all agencies that had worked to bring down HIV prevalence in the State.

"I am very happy to learn that the incidence has come down in Tamil Nadu," Mr. Barnala said at a meeting organised by the AIDS Prevention and Control (APAC) Project, Voluntary Health Services, Adyar. He appreciated the hard work put in by the State government, APAC, voluntary organisations, peer educators in collaboration with USAID, that had brought down the spiralling incidence of HIV. However, he added that health institutions should come out with concrete plans to initiate action at their levels to sustain and step up action against HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.

Mr.Barnala also saw a role for religious associations to conduct religious discourses and camps highlighting building up of moral values. He said he was confident that such camps would build self-control and a pure mind in people.

United States Consul -General David Hopper highlighted the areas of collaboration between India and the U.S. in the area of HIV control and prevention, following the agreement reached between the two nations in July 2005. Collaborative ventures had been launched in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The private sector in America, including organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gere Foundation, Clinton Foundation and Elizabeth Glazer Foundation had also contributed in India.

Madras University Vice- Chancellor, S.P.Thyagarajan, said there had been a significant decline in prevalence from 1.6 per cent in 2000 to about 0.65 per cent as per the latest surveillance studies. Only concentrated efforts, involving state and central governments, multilateral agencies, non governmental organisations and research institutions, in fighting the virus could have led to this, Prof.Thyagarajan added.

VHS secretary, N.S.Murali, explained how the organisation had associated itself with the AIDS project and said it was thanks to networking and partnerships with over 90 NGOs that the programme had advanced into its 10th year.