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Interaction with media leaders on HIV/AIDS held
Correspondent Kohima, Nov 24(NPN):
Published on 25 Nov. 2009 12:53 AM IST
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A day-long brain storming session of media persons on HIV/AIDS organized by Avahan, the India AIDS initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with the UNAIDS, North East Regional Office (NERO), National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS) was held at the Police Headquarter Conference Hall here today. Health and Family Welfare Minister Kuzholuzo Neinu in his keynote addressed appreciated the role the Church had played in the battle against HIV/AIDS and the remarkable achievement by them in the formulation of the Church Policy towards the issue of HIV/AIDS. Kuzholuzo also pointed out the active initiatives taken up by the state government towards the fight against HIV/AIDS . He further disclosed that the state will soon come out with a policy on HIV/AIDS.The minister also assured the strongest political support towards the fight until the spread of the virus in the state was contained. The interactive session was divided into three sessions where presentations was made by various panelists on activities, lacunae, scopes and challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS was followed by interaction. Earlier, the day-long interaction began with a welcome address and brief presentation by Ms. Penny Richard, Advocacy Officer, Avahan India AIDS initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. This was followed by the address by Menukhol John, Commissioner and Secretary Health and Family Welfare Department who spoke on the Challenges of Health and HIV/AIDS in Nagaland. Menukhol admitted that the state has presently only a minimal infrastructure in the fight against HIV/AIDSand that the state was short of about 1600 trained manpower and was roping in other departments in the battle. In the first session, panelist Dilip Sharma, from Nagaland Page spoke on the achievements and challenges for the media by reminding that since the detection of the HIV virus in the state, the state media had been playing active role. He spoke on various problems faced by media in dealing with the issues due to communication gaps and suggested regular programmes at different levels with activists and PLHA. In the second session, Dr. Neiphie Kire, project director, NSACS, Dr.Vinito Chishi, state coordinator, Nagaland Legislators Forum on AIDS, UNAIDS, Dr. Hukashe Zhimomi, director, Nagaland development outreach, NBCC and Dr. B. Langkham, director, project ORCHID were the panelists who enlightened the gathering on the various steps undertaken by their respective organizations in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Dr. Neiphie Kire, in his address revealed that Nagaland continues to be the second highest HIV prevalence state with 1.20 % next to Manipur which has 1.57% while there are a total of 5098 PLHA registered in the state, 1534 are alive and on ART which includes 1444 adult 90 children. He also revealed that there are an estimated 27774 Intravenous Drugs Users (IDU), 4956 female sex workers (FSW), 999 man sex man (MSM) in the state. Address Sexual Route of Transmission - FBO/CBO/NGO. Dr.Vinito, while sharing the various activities of the NLFA stressed on the importance of policy decision and adoption. Similarly, Dr. Hukashe Zhimomi, and Dr. B. Langkham shared the various activities under taken by their respective organizations. In this regard, Dr Langkham said that the challenges ahead was to promote the use of condom, tackling cross border transmission of HIV/AIDS, illicit trafficking of drugs across the border, translation of communication materials in major local languages, baseline research, livelihood support and stigma & discrimination etc. In the third session, Akum Longchari, Editor, Morung Express, Temjen Jamir, Editor, Tir Yimyim and Pradeep Pareek, Editor, Shine News & Visuals were the media panelist who shared the media perspective on the issue. Akum Longchari pointed out that the issue of HIV/AIDS depended on the perception created and went on to say that the HIV/AIDS campaign in the state was too centric and project oriented. He also stressed the need to be more accountable in the campaign and suggested that the campaign be turned into a peoples’ movement. Further, he called upon the Legislators Forum on AIDS to take the lead by going for voluntarily blood testing thereby setting example for the people of the state. On the other hand, Temjen Jamir Editor, Tir Yimyim pointed out that while there is much talked about condom in the campaign, the need of the hour in the state particularly among the school children is the moral condom. He also stressed the need for conducting seminars and workshops for the parents to create awareness on HIV/AIDS. Similarly, Pareek Pradeep viewed that the success in the fight against HIV/AIDS could be tackled through honesty and also suggested legalization of prostitution, particularly for a place like Dimapur where proper red light area be demarcated so that the government agencies and NGOs can monitor and closely work with the sex workers. The interaction also witnessed sharing by two members of the community who work with the sex workers in Dimapur and also by a member from the state drug users’ community who boldly shared experiences and views.

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