TODAY -

On World AIDS Day
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: December 02 2011 -

World AIDS Day :: December 1



1st of December of every year is being observed all over the globe as the World Aids Day since 1988 to spread awareness about HIV infection as a consequence the AIDs pandemic which is generally considered one of the worst pandemics in recorded history.

According to UNAIDS at the end of 2010 there were 34 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) while 1.8 million people died of AIDS during the same period. A very high 67 % or 22.9 million of PLHIV is concentrated in the Sub-Saharan Africa followed by the South/South-East Asia which has a prevalence of 4 million PLHIV or 12% of the total global prevalence.

Inspite of millions of dollars spent on research, an effective vaccine for HIV/AIDS is still not a reality. But we can take heart from the fact that the incidence of death due to AIDS has come down over the years as a result of access to Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) to PLHIV.

In 2010 1.8 million people died of AIDS which is a decrease of 21% since 2005.

As per the UNAIDS estimate new infections have declined by more than 20% since the peak in 1997. Increased awareness about HIV/AIDS, better testing facilities, etc, are responsible for this decline.

The year round focus on a theme as part of the World AIDS Day since 1997 under the aegis of UNAIDS has also helped focus effort in containing and fighting the HIV/AIDS. The theme for this year is "Getting to Zero - Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths".

How far the theme is successfully implemented will depend on lot of factors, among which the sincerity and cooperation among all the agencies, government bodies and NGOs specially working in this field will be a significant contributing factor.

Manipur, which has one of the highest prevalence of HIV in the country, has come a long way in terms of spreading awareness and preparedness to combat this pandemic from the earlier days.

But it is clear that we still have a long way to go, for newer challenges have cropped up for which we need to come up with fresh solutions. Also the fight against HIV/AIDS can no longer be confined to just fighting the infection but also to finding solutions to its socio-economic consequences.

There are several issues which call for attention of the concern authorities. There are many programmes of HIV/AIDS in the state which are carried out by liberal funding from the foreign funding agencies like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Fund etc, many of which is set to expire shortly.

Now, what happens to these programmes once the funding is withdrawn? Contingency plan need to be put in place for such an eventuality. The state government need to come up with some alternative arrangement by way of establishing a resource pool to keep these programmes going.

Even though the state government has established ART centres in in 8 of the 9 districts of the state many of them do not conform to the specifications as per the guidelines of NACO.

There are complaints of unhygienic ambience of these centres, cramped space making it tedious for the patient to wait for their turn, lack of access to clean drinking water etc. Need for better trained counselors in these centres is also felt by many NGOs and individuals working in this field.

Besides looking into all these areas, there is also need for sustained and aggressive campaign to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. Even though the situation has improved to a great extend over the years, we are far from wiping out discrimination and stigmatization of PLHIV and AIDS patients.

This is one area where the state government, NGOs, CSOs, local clubs, students' bodies and the media can play a significant role by debunking the myths about HIV and AIDS.

Along with all the others efforts made to fight this deadly infection, society's support and cooperation in making PLHIV and AIDS patient feel wanted and part of the society without stigmatization and discrimination is of utmost importance.

This will not only be encouraging to them but will also add strength to their resolve to fight on.





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