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Rallies, streetplay, muppet shows mark AIDS Day

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 1 - Along with the rest of the world, the Assam State AIDS Control Organization (ASACS) organised World AIDS Day today with a gamut of activities.

The State-level function was held at the Sri Sri Madhabdeb Auditorium on the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra premises here, which was preceded by a rally flagged off by noted actress Aimi Baruah and ace footballer Durga Boro. The rally culminated at the Kalakshetra.

The theme of World AIDS Day -2018 is �Know Your Status�. The theme itself encourages one and all to know their HIV status.

Welcoming the participants, Project Director of ASACS Anurag Goel said, �Though the HIV prevalence in Assam is 0.06 per cent, it is lower than the national average which is 0.22 per cent. However, the factor of concern is that Assam is highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS mainly because it is the gateway to the North East. As per the NACO HIV Estimation Report 2017, the new rate of infection in Assam has increased by 37 per cent since 2010.� He further said that after initiation of the Early Infant Diagnostic (EID) programme, the rate of mother-to-child transmission has come down. He also listed out the progress and achievements of ASACS.

Principal Secretary to Govt of Assam, Health & FW Department, Samir Sinha, said, �As per the India HIV Estimation 2017 Fact Sheet it is estimated that Assam has an estimated 13,539 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in 2017 and people accessing ART stands at 5,846 till March 2018. The scenario is not at all pleasant because Assam is vulnerable to new HIV infections mainly because of inflow and outflow of migrants in the State.� He further said seven new blood banks are coming up in the newly-formed districts of Assam and five new blood mobile buses will be launched shortly.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Secretary Alok Kumar, said, �During 80s and 90s HIV had no treatment. But today, HIV programme has become one of the most vital public health programmes like pulse polio and other vaccination programmes. I am very happy that today all non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations have come forward to take the ownership of the HIV programme.� He further said, �We have to give up our stereotype mindset and work unitedly to fight the HIV menace. Today I am happy to see that more and more young people are taking part in seminars and all types of public discourses on HIV.�

Speaking on the occasion, noted actress Nishita Goswami said, �Though lots of HIV awareness campaigns have been conducted, somewhere there is a lack of acceptance by the people. We must be able to talk freely about HIV/AIDS, especially the youths and the women. Today, younger generation are very fond of tattoos and if precautionary measures are not taken, who knows one may be infected by this dreaded virus.�

Noted actress Chetana Das in her speech said, �I have always been a part of HIV awareness programme and whenever I go for any awareness meeting on HIV, I see people are eager to know about HIV and therefore we need to provide the correct information to the masses. A congenial social environment must be created so that people, especially youths, can talk freely about HIV/AIDS.� She also urged the youths to come forward and donate blood.

Apart from the State-level function, a voluntary blood donation camp was organised at the venue where Chief Secretary Alok Kumar donated blood in the blood donation bus.

World AIDS Day was also organised in all district headquarters and by Red Ribbon Clubs (RRC) of colleges across Assam. Muppet shows, handshake campaign and folk performances on HIV/AIDS were also organised on the occasion.

Bystanders in the Fancy Bazar locality enthusiastically took part in the social experiment organised by MyGov Assam under the aegis of ASACS and in collaboration with Assam Network of Positive People.

Volunteers from the North Eastern Regional Institute of Management (NERIM) took part in a rally by holding placards �I am HIV positive, will you shake hands with me�.

The volunteers shook hands with a number of bystanders during the one-hour campaign aimed at clearing myths about the disease. However, there was a mixed reaction from the public as some seemed reluctant to shake hands, while others embraced the volunteers with open arms.

Streetplay: The Department of Community Medicine, Gauhati Medical College along with the students� union, organised a streetplay on the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital campus today on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

The streetplay was performed by the undergraduate students of GMC to create awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Dr Joydev Sarma, Vice Principal, Gauhati Medical College addressed the gathering. Dr Madhab Ch Rajbangshi, Superintendent, MMCH; Dr Ankumoni Saikia, Professor and HOD and faculties of the community medicine department and students of GMC were also present on the occasion.

Kamrup District Legal Services Authority: The Kamrup District Legal Services Authority today celebrated the World AIDS Day in association with Divine Hand Welfare Association on the campus of Dispur College, a press release said.

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