Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar virtually inaugurated the World AIDS Day celebrations at Talkatora stadium, informed the officials on Thursday.
At the outset of the event, Dr Bharti Pravin Pawar through her video message said that "World AIDS Day which is globally observed on 1st December since 1988, is an opportunity to show solidarity with people living with HIV (PLHIV) and create awareness for the same."
"The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Equalize", which is a slogan for a call to action for all connected with this crusade. It calls for taking practical actions needed for addressing inequalities in the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Viruses) infected and affected populations across the country and also helped in ending AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)", she added.
Dr Pawar focused on increasing social inclusivity and using a multisectoral approach to tackle HIV.
"Creativity through efforts of Civil Society Organizations, and youth communities established in the colleges and universities must be harnessed. Red ribbon clubs are playing an important role too and with more than 12,500 such clubs they can be used to create massive awareness," she said.
She reiterated the commitment of the government under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister towards strengthening HIV/AIDS and STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) response. Some steps being the National AIDS toll-free helpline, lifetime free ART services and regular viral load monitoring for PLHIV. Dr. Pawar also highlighted the need to reduce discrimination against the affected population. The government in this regard has notified "HIV & AIDS policy for establishments 2022".
Several reports were released at the event including the 4th edition of Sankalak, three Surveillance and Epidemiology Reports, a White paper on Transgender Health, the Release of the Prevention Progress Report 2021-22, Release of Prevention Progress Report 2021-22, National Data Hub of NACO, Campaign on Stigma and Discrimination.
Special Secretary Gopalakrishnan inaugurated the exhibition showcasing the achievements of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) and important activities undertaken during the year.
Speaking at the event, Special Secretary emphasized accurate detection and treatment, ensuring care services reach to the remotest part of the country.
Additional Secretary and DG NACO Hekali Zhimomi, congratulated the country for an exceptional response in reducing the HIV burden in the country. She said that "annual new HIV infections have declined by 46 per cent between 2010-2021 against the global average of 32 per cent. AIDS-related mortality has also declined by 76 per cent against the global average of 52 per cent."
The event also saw cultural performances by folk groups from around the country and a Hunar Haat set up by community members from states. Re-emphasizing empowerment and inclusivity, Hunar Haat represented the idea of upskilling of community members so that they get better employment opportunities in the future and will therefore be more empowered.
Nidhi Kesarwani, Director, NACO, Dr Roderico H. Ofrin, WHO Representative to India, David Bridger, Country Director UNAIDS were also present at the event along with other dignitaries.
The event was attended by more than 3000 people cutting across states, people living with HIV (PLHIV) communities, NGOs, CSOs, development partners and youth. Special Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Gopalakrishnan was also present at the event. (ANI)