TAMIL NADU

United efforts needed to fight AIDS in country: Sharmila Tagore

D. Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam: To combat the HIV/AIDS scourge help from all directions was necessary, said the noted film personality and UNICEF spokesperson on HIV/AIDS, Sharmila Tagore at Lovedale, near here, on Saturday.

Interacting with The Hindu , she pointed out that the menace was attaining alarming proportions.

"We are number two after South Africa as far as number of HIV cases go," she said and added that the focus was now on prolonging the life of orphaned and vulnerable children affected by HIV. Adverting to the five point programme - caring family, caring neighbourhood, a concerned and protective government, conducive environment and a friendly service giver - proposed by the UNICEF for such children, she said that the organisation was now encouraging people to go in for voluntary tests to know their status vis a vis HIV/AIDS.

Pointing out that it was possible for a HIV positive person to treat himself or herself, she said that considering the gravity of the situation, "we have to advocate the usage of condoms."

In this context when asked for her views on the raging controversy involving film actor Kushboo, she said that she had not read the interview and knew about the developments only by piecing together what she had read in newspapers.

"If Ms. Kushboo had emphasised the need to practise safe sex to prevent the spread of AIDS, I can't see anything wrong with that."

Advocacy of safe sex particularly in the context of HIV/AIDS is very pertinent. Being a tradition bound society, no one would like to advocate pre-marital sex. Since children cannot be controlled all the time, they have to be told the facts of life.

In publishing an interview, if the reference to the context was removed, the meaning gets changed. If something derogatory had been said deliberately against any section of society, one could describe it only as wrong. At the same time the media should not lose perspective.

When asked about the uproar against Ms.Kushboo's alleged remarks, Ms.Tagore said that even if somebody had said something by mistake or through a slip of the tongue it was not necessary to `crucify' the person. "The concern for the youth of India should be more paramount than our own agenda," she added.