Thursday, June 19, 2008


Date : 22th June 2006

Supported by :
Organized by :
TAI- VHS along with ICWO

About the event
Chennai, 22 June: “Today it is 25 years into the HIV epidemic and it is important for us to recognize the fact that everyone who is vulnerable to HIV should shape the response, if we have to effectively respond to fighting the epidemic,” said Dr R Lakshmi Bai, Project Director TAI (Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative). She was inaugurating a campaign marking the 25th anniversary of the first AIDS death in the world in 1981, at the ICWO office in Chennai on Thursday morning.

A mobile van with the message “Goodbye to AIDS” was inaugurated by Dr.N.S.Murali, Secretary, VHS and Dr. Lakshmi Bai, Project Director, TAI (Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative), released the first interactive Comic book on prevention of Trafficking. This van went around the city through the day, covering many important sites culminating at the Chennai Marina beach.
Later in the evening, at the Marina, the TAI Kavya, the cultural troupe trained and supported by TAI made a compelling presentation through folk arts and drama to bring awareness on HIV. The TAI Kaaviya is a group of Aravanis, who have been performing all over Tamil Nadu to address issues of health, disease prevention and better lifestyle.

Speaking at the inaugural A. J. Hariharan, Secretary ICWO said that the challenge was to reach out aggressively with HIV prevention messages to marginalized communities and back them with adequate services. “When each one of us becomes aware on how to protect himself/herself from the virus and has the freedom and access to services then we can be confident that we have started to overcome the epidemic. Till that time our work continues,” he said. He added that the need of the day was to forge a multi-sectoral approach to deal with the issue. Every community should mainstream the day-to-day concerns of the marginal communities, he said.

Earlier this year, UNAIDS reported that there are an estimated 5.7 million people in India affected with HIV/AIDS, making it the country with the largest number of infections. However, Tamil Nadu, according to the report is also showing signs of reversing the trends of the epidemic indicating that prevention efforts are making a difference. “We have come a long way from that initial fear and hopelessness. Community-led prevention initiatives of leading NGOs such as ICWO are showing encouraging signs”, said Dr. Lakshmi Bai, “But we need to step forward, empower and support these marginalized communities much more to make a substantial difference.”

“We should remember those who have been infected with the virus. The quality of life for affected people has to improve. It is necessary to ensure that those who have been infected have access to health care and are able to receive anti –retroviral drugs when necessary, said Saritha (name changed) a positive person who has been living with the virus for the last ten years. This has been recognized as the most crucial need and gap in the present scenario.

Fighting discrimination at the workplace continues to be a challenge for us. Those living with HIV should not be discriminated against in the work place”, says Karthik, (name changed) another positive person.