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‘Project ORCHID’ clarifies
DIMAPUR, JUN 4 (NPN):
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Published on 5 Jun. 2010 12:44 AM IST
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‘Project ORCHID’, in response to allegations levelled by Nagaland drug user bodies on “mandatory testing”, reported in local dailies June 3, has said that it did not believe in mandatory testing nor has any plans to introduce mandatory testing.
‘Project ORCHID’ project director Dr. Langkham, in a press rejoinder, Friday clarified that they don’t support “mandatory” testing, saying they “strongly believe” that successful referral depended on client’s own informed choice after receiving professional counselling by SACS’ appointed ICTC counsellor.
Dr. Langkham also stated that, the Project and all NGO partners, in accordance with guidelines, only referred clients for voluntary testing at government run ICTC centres.
Pointing out that there was a great need to make voluntary testing, far more accessible and acceptable for vulnerable groups, the project director said early testing enabled HIV positive person to seek treatment and other services.
It stated that NSACS, ‘Project Orchid’ and NGO partners were currently involved in understanding and deliberating on all possible challenges.
The project director further asserted that many NGO partners have come across different concerns, and that they plan to share those concerns with State AIDS control society for further consideration and review. Also, stressing that “referral services” were important component of prevention, care and support at ‘Project ORCHID’, Dr. Langkham said: “because early diagnosis of HIV status and access to treatment are critical factors for HIV prevention, care and support.”
He further said that if an individual wished to voluntarily share his/ her HIV status to counselor or other trained staff at the Project ORCHID TI, necessary linkages to other support services and ART centers were facilitated.
“All necessary follow up services including counseling, adherence to treatment and support for such an individual; is provided only under a ‘shared confidentiality’ arrangement,” Dr. Langkham said, adding that “Project ORCHID” and its TI partners have implemented prevention initiatives based on principles of respect and community participation.
This approach, Dr. Langkham said has led to community playing a key leadership role in the project implementation.
“We believe and uphold that protecting the rights and dignity of vulnerable individuals is critical to effective HIV prevention,” the project directed further said.

 
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