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AIDS Control Programme to Focus on District Level

The National AIDS Control Programme, in its next stage, will shift its focus from the state level to the district level to combat the disease more effectively//.

National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) director general K. Sujatha Rao Monday said that after the completion of the NACP-II in March 2006, the NACP-III was in an appraisal stage and things will be cleared by November.

"The campaign is in an appraisal stage and by November things will be cleared. The estimated budget will be $2.5 billion. We are in consultation with several United Nations bodies and the share of the UN and India will be decided after the appraisal," Rao told reporters.

"Under the programme, all authorities of the Panchayat Raj institutions and municipal corporations of all districts will be sensitised to join the fight against AIDS.

"The aim is to build partnership with a countrywide community of locally elected leaders in the rural and urban areas, as they have the potential to influence policies, programming and resource management," she added.

India is currently home to 5.21 million HIV-infected people and 60 percent of them live in rural areas.

"It is not that rural folks are not a victim of sexual promiscuity but it is the bridging population that is contributing to the spread of HIV in these areas," said Rao, who is also the additional secretary of ministry of health and family affairs.

Migrant labourers and truck drivers who constitute the bulk of the 'bridging population' will be made part of the new programme that will remain effective till 2012.

"We have been so far able to sensitise 30 percent users of the national highways and the programme aims to reach cent percent of them. Truckers will be sensitised about the safe sex practices and intervention centres will be opened on several highways," Rao told IANS.

She said all mayors would be made part of the campaign so as to curb stigma and discrimination of the HIV-positive people in the rural hinterlands. "Besides, municipal chairmen, elected representative of panchayats will be given proper knowledge in collaboration with self-help groups and NGOs on the issue.

"Increasing the usage of condoms among the rural people will also get a further boost through these programmes. It nutshell, the district will be the focus of India to combat the disease," Rao said.

(Source: IANS)

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