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Snippy haircuts, snappier AIDS lessons from barbers

ery week we assemble in a nearby park where we give them basic information about the disease. These barbers are told about everything, right from the causes, prevention, to where to get blood tests done.

"So many times they send people to us for counselling," said Pal.

Right in front of the main Lajpat Nagar market's bike stand is Dilshad, 40, who has been a barber for 20 years.

"I have made it a point to tell at least 10 customers about the disease daily." He said initially he was a bit shy about talking to his customers on HIV/AIDS or giving them condoms, but no more.

"Now my awareness level has increased and I am proud of my campaign to tell others about the silent killer," said Dilshad. Through sexual contact, blood transfusion or use of infected needles - he can rattle off the many ways in which HIV is transmitted.

He said while many of his customers seemed to have heard of the disease, they often did not know where to go for blood tests. The barbers themselves make sure they change the razor blade they use for each customer.

Just a few yards from Dilshad's open saloon is Habib, 64, who is busy giving a shave to a customer, and he too feels what he is doing is unparalleled work, as he is not paid for it.

"I feel great helping someone. At least, we are saving many lives by passing on the message. When we were young, things were much safer. But with time everything has changed."

Asked if he feels shy talking to youngsters about the disease, Habib said: "Why should I? Being an elder, it's my duty to teach right things to the youth. But, yeah, with the younger lots I start the topic with an obscene joke to open them up!"

Happy with the response in Lajpat Nagar, the NGO has expanded the project to Sangam Vihar in south Delhi.

Source: IANS
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