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Call for a united fight on HIV and AIDS

Nagaland Governor K. Sankaranarayanan at the release of media materials. (DPRO Kohima)
Published on 24 Mar. 2009 12:52 AM IST
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Films on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination released State governor, Sankaranarayanan, Monday called has for a concerted effort at all levels to galvanize the largest possible consensus in the fight against HIV and AIDS and the stigma and discrimination that is being faced by people living with HIV and AIDS and affected by it and also for the strengthening the initiatives aimed at reversing and mitigating the socio-economic and developmental consequences of the diseases. He was speaking at the release of two documentary films produced by the Australian International Health Institute (AIHI) of the Nossal Institute for Global Health in partnership with EHA-Project ORCHID under the aegis of ‘Overcoming Stigma and Discrimination’ (OSD) Project initiated and supported by the Avahan India AIDS Initiative. The governor went on to speak of the pro-active steps that had been taken by Nagaland to build a ground level response and empower IDUs, vulnerable women and people living with HIV and AIDS while also reiterating that ‘stigma and discrimination’ was a ‘great challenge’ to all as it severely impacts the quality of the response that prevents people living with HIV and AIDS from seeking services. He also stressed on the role media had to play saying “From the onset, mass media has been playing a critical role in spreading awareness, building sensitivity around HIV and AIDS and the communities affected by it besides changing people’s perceptions about HIV and AIDS. It is therefore imperative that mass media further strengthen its resolve to continue this fight against stigma.” Dr. Neiphi Kire, Project Director, NSACS, commended AIHI and Project ORCHID for their efforts to address and reduce the stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV and AIDS and said, “People are afraid of knowing their status or to come out and access the available services due to the stigma and discrimination associated with it”. The highpoint of the function was the release of two films - “Going the distance” and “As the River Flows”. These films address the stigma and discrimination being faced by people living with HIV and AIDS and the challenges in seeking health related services and linkages for care and support. “Going the Distance” is centered around Nukshinaro, a PLHA coordinator with NSACS, who declared her HIV positive status in a public address on World AIDS Day in 2005. It highlights the support that she got from her friends and family when she disclosed her HIV positive status to them. Yapangnaro Longkumer, who directed the film ‘As the River Flows’ said, “Though I did know about the issue of HIV and AIDS, the process leading to the film gave deep insight into the challenges faced by PLHIV.” She added that, “The consultation workshops on media messaging made me realize how mass media can be used to focus on positive aspects and build awareness in the process.” And that her involvement with the OSD initiative had motivated her to make yet another documentary on issues pertaining to HIV and AIDS. Also validating the need to use different mediums to focus on the fight against stigma and discrimination, Dr. Joyce Angami team leader, OSD and project manager, Nossal Institute for Global Health, said, “Our main objective is to enhance the outreach activities of HIV and AIDS related interventions taken up by NGOs in partnership with NSACS, Project ORCHID and other agencies in Nagaland. “OSD is aimed at addressing the issue of PLHIV not accessing health care facilities for fear of stigma and discrimination. We hope to contribute towards facilitating an enabling environment for PLHIV by raising awareness among the general population through films and other mediums,” she added. Besides the documentary films, the OSD’s initiative was using a mix of various media in the form of booklets, posters, hoardings, public service announcements (PSAs) and radio spots to highlight the need to address stigma and discrimination also to be aired through radio, television and print mediums. It was also explained that the two films and other media mix products were part of a process taken up by AIHI and EHA-Project ORCHID with support from the Avahan Initiative and in partnership with local mass media professionals. Lauding the steps taken by the OSD initiative, Fr. Chacko Karihayil, the parish priest of Holy Cross, Dimapur, said that the lives of the two protagonists would not only inspire other PLHIVs to seek health care services but also make people sensitive to HIV and AIDS.

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