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India Marks World AIDS Day

People across the seven North Eastern States of India have taken a pledge to spread awareness with regard to combating AIDS.// The World AIDS Day was marked by marches in the states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Tripura by HIV positive people, health workers, schoolchildren, and rehabilitated drug addicts. The North Eastern states of India are home to a large number of drug addicts.

'The slogan this year is 'Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise' meaning there is a need to step up the level of awareness to check the virus and the role and responsibilities of Government leaders like us in fighting HIV/AIDS,' Assam Health Minister Bhumidhar Barman said. India has a 5.1 million HIV positive population, and the North Eastern states account for almost 100,000 HIV positive cases. The Indian Army units which are stationed at the North Eastern states have also reported several HIV positive cases among their men due to promiscuous sex.

Marches to mark the World AIDS Day were also held in various parts of Kashmir. The State is believed to be a high-risk area due to the large number of truckers operating there, and also because of the large number of armed forces personnel deployed there. The foreign militants operating in the state are also reported to be indulging in indiscriminate sex further raising the chances of spreading the virus.

India's health delivery system would be restructured in the next two years to provide a comprehensive package of HIV/AIDS preventive and treatment services with particular emphasis on youth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised on 1 December 2005.

'It is our goal to ensure that in the next two years our health delivery system will be restored to provide a comprehensive package of services to the community and the HIV infected persons,' the Prime Minister said at a national convention to mark the World AIDS Day.

The package of services, he said, should include 'pr eventive services, promotional measures as well as interventions for counseling and treatment. Simultaneously, a massive capacity building, awareness and counseling campaign should be launched with the help of public health professionals.'

Addressing over 1,000 youth leaders of all political parties participating in the convention, said there was a need to focus on the youth considering the major demographic transition in the country.

The Government programme, the Prime Minister said, would have to get out of the narrow confines of the health department and 'become an integral part of all government departments'. He underlined the need to make the National AIDS Control Programme part of the national rural health mission and the public health network. The rural areas of the country account for 59% if the HIV cases while the urban areas account for the balance 41%.

(IANS)
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