Indians rank HIV/AIDS as the most serious health problem facing the country today. Yet confusion and wrong perceptions on the disease dominate public opinion, according to a new global study conducted by the MAC AIDS Fund, the philanthropic arm of Este Lauder-owned MAC Cosmetics. While 79% of Indians understand AIDS is always fatal, 59% still wrongly believe there is a cure available today. Indians cite a lack of access to information on HIV/AIDS and how it is contracted as the top issue contributing to the spread of the virus.
The study also reveals that 65% of Indians report stigma and shame to be major contributing factors and barriers to stemming the epidemic. People in India, nearly more than nationals in any other country surveyed, are uncomfortable interacting on intimate levels with those who are HIV positive, with 44% not being comfortable sharing the same physician as someone with HIV or AIDS, 38% reporting they feel uncomfortable working alongside a person with HIV/AIDS, and 41% saying they do not want to live in the same house as someone who has the virus.
Carriers of death
Highway in My Veins: Truckers in India was the one-hour programme on Discovery Channel this Saturday. The World Aids Day special, the programme was based on the life of truckers in India and their growing vulnerability to this deadly disease. It is estimated that majority of accidents on Indian roads involve trucks.
While lack of sleep is identified as one of the major causes of truck-related accidents, another important cause is overloading. But the most critical factor that today has brought the truck drivers the title of "carriers of death" is their role in spreading the world's most deadly disease to the extreme ends of India.
Social networking and HIV
Social networking website Fropper.com, is spreading awareness about HIV, safe sex and sexually transmitted infections among the Indian youth. Right from an AIDS Helpline with Saadhan (a Mumbai-based NGO) (022) 23892222, an anti-AIDS mascot Miss Red Ribbon to make you know about safe sex and HIV; section of photos and videos of AIDS awareness posters and videos, besides red ribbons in scraps which the members can send to their friends and other members.
Vigil for AIDS orphans
World Vision, the welfare organisation, organised a 24-hour worldwide vigil on the occasion of World Aids Day. Starting on 29th November at 8 am in New York, the vigil went around the world recognising by name the 6,000 children who became orphaned by AIDS and also the children made vulnerable every day by the disease. The event ended on Friday. In India, the vigil was held at Hotel Samrat on Friday.
AIDS at BILT
Ballarpur Industries Limited is organising a range of activities across its facilities on World Aids Day.
The events between December 1 and 7 will go beyond the red ribbon campaign at all the units to awareness programmes for school children and the general population, advocacy workshops on Anti Retroviral Therapy with industrial doctors and private practioners from neighbouring area, slogan, poster and essay competition for students and a candlelight march for those who died of HIV/AIDS.
State-of-the-art blood banks soon
The government will set up state-of-the-art blood banks in 600 districts across India and a model blood bank in all the states within next 2-3 years, said Anbumani Ramadoss, minister for Health and Family Welfare at the National Conference on How Accessible and Safe is Safe Blood, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry. Centers of Excellence will be set up at all the four metros at a cost of Rs 25 crore each to support the regional requirements of testing and storage of blood, said the Minister.
Under the programme, the government will establish a plasma fractioning unit with a capacity of 15,00,00 litres of blood every year. National Blood Authority will be set up by the government to promote and regulate the process of donations, transfusions and policies regarding blood. India has reduced HIV/AIDS as a cause of blood transfusion to 2% and government has set a target of 0.5%, he said.
TCIFs Truckers Utsav
TCI Foundation, the social arm of Transport Corporation of India Ltd, organised a nationwide Truckers Utsav on the occasion of the World AIDS Day. Under its national HIV/AIDS prevention programme, Project Kavach, the event was held across 14 locations countrywide.
The activities included a day-long health camp followed by entertainment events such as puppet shows, folk dances, street plays and competitions in the evening.