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UNAIDS Chief Appeals for Projects to Battle AIDS/HIV

The UN has made a global appeal for implementation of various projects to combat the dreaded AIDS/HIV. 'There is a crisis over implementation of programs in defeating HIV/AIDS and our response is to mobilize political momentum // globally and to see that the fruits of investment help in checking new infections,' Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, said.

'Out top priority is to make the money work and ensure that funds reach the people on the ground and best used,' he added.

Piot was speaking at a summit for 'Elected Representatives in India's Northeast on HIV/AIDS' organized by India's Parliamentary Forum on HIV/AIDS in Guwahati.

'AIDS has become one of the greatest leadership challenges of our time worldwide and the need is to have a vibrant political leadership that could take bold decisions to contain the epidemic,' Piot said.

'Today the issue of AIDS is in the same category of global warming or global terrorism and it is no longer an infectious disease alone.'

He said stigma was a major hindrance in controlling the epidemic.

'Stigma and discrimination all over the world has been a major obstacle in HIV prevention and treatment and we need to tackle it upfront,' Piot said.

'Instead of billboards warning against AIDS, a warm embrace by the chief minister or an elected representative to a person living with HIV could make all the difference and extremely productive in breaking stigma in the society.'

India accounts for about 5.1 million HIV-positive people, next only to South Africa. India's northeast has been declared as one of the country's high-risk zones with close to 100,000 people infected with HIV.

India's northeast lies on the edge of the heroin-producing 'Golden Triangle' of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand and independent estimates have put the number of regular intravenous drug users in the region at 300,000 -- a key cause of HIV infection here.
< br> 'The UNAIDS is committed to supporting measures in fighting the disease in India and especially in the northeast as the region is surrounded by international borders that is more vulnerable,' Piot said.

--IANS
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