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International AIDS candlelight memorial service in Dimapur
Published on 16 May. 2011 1:10 AM IST
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In Dimapur The 28th International AIDS candlelight memorial service was held at IMC on the theme ‘Touching Lives” with Editor Nagaland Post Geoffrey Yaden as the chief guest.
Congratulating the Dimapur Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (DNP+ ) for organizing the 28th Candlelight Memorial Service, chief guest Geoffrey Yaden, called upon its members to set an example and become the leading NGO in this field.
On the plight of those living with HIV/AIDS, he described the three layers -Church, Government and Society- which have their own respective roles to play. According to the chief guest, the church that included all believers and especially the leaders ought to be more empathetic rather than merely sympathetic to those living with HIV/AIDS. He said the church, which is driven by God’s love, must understand the feeling and not merely be contented with prayers but do all possible to befriend and encourage those living with HIV/AIDS.
At the government level, he said in Nagaland the Legislators and all officials who have expressed concern and commitment ought to ponder why ART facilities are still lacking. He said HIV/AIDS cannot be tackled through workshops or seminars but through honest action from the government side in providing the best possible treatment.
At the societal level, he lauded the Dimapur Naga Women Hoho president Hukheli Wotsa for making a commitment to extend help to those living with HIV/AIDS. The chief guest said society must address stigmatization as it is a prejudicial attitude. Unless society accepts and understands that those living with HIV/AIDS are part and parcel of it and do whatever possible to make them feel wanted, the barrier will be at society’s peril, he added.
Recalling his association in the formation of DDACC in 2002, the chief guest lauded the DNP+ for having come up during the past years.
On the DNP+, the chief guest opined it has two roles-one to encourage more people to declare their status without fear or shame and the other, to act as the bridge with society in complementing the efforts to stop the spread. He also suggested DNP+ organize more programmes for training in career and skills so that the PLWHA could obtain gainful employment.
Before sharing concern on the people living with HIV and AIDS status, President of DNP+ Moa Phom boldly revealed his status. He said he was detected with AIDS since 2005 and for six years running is been on antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment and till date has remained healthy.
He lauded the government for providing various health services in the state for people living with HIV and AIDS especially ART centres across the state.
However, Moa highlighted that only first line ART treatment was available in Nagaland and there was no alternative for those with side effects after taking ART first line treatment.
According to him most of the people having side effects have died waiting for the second line treatment. He highlighted that other states have started providing alternative treatment for those affected with ART side effects.
Besides stigma and discrimination, Moa said it was mainly due to carelessness that many have died of AIDS. He also revealed that most of the people infected with HIV come late for treatment. In this regard he appealed to the infected people to access the services provided by the government and to get early treatment before it was too late.
Naga Women Hoho president Hukheli T. Wotsa also shared her view on ‘commitment and solidarity’. She called for showing solidarity to those who lost their lives to AIDS. She said in the past HIV patient were traumatized and remained hidden and un-cared for and no one was willing to talk about the dreaded diseases and many died silently due to lack of health care facilities.
She expressed gratitude to the government and NGOs working for the cause of people living with HIV and AIDS because of who many have come out from their cocoon of embarrassment, shame and humiliation and are receiving treatment.
She congratulated DNP+, nurses and NGOs who are dealing with PLWHA opening the door to “hidden pain of HIV patients” and caring for them.
Earlier, one minute silence was observed in memory of those who lost their lives to AIDS, invocation was said by Rev. Chumben Kyong, Sr, associate pastor Lotha Baptist Church, special message through song by Miqlat ministry and Sinai ministry, vote of thanks by Nitoshe ICTC supervisor and benediction by Pastor Rengma Baptist Church.
This was followed by lighting of candles. The programme was by DNP+ was attended by NGOs in and around Dimapur.
DNP+ was established in May 2006. It has 1153 members and currently 338 people infected with HIV are on ART treatment.

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