Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday, November 30, inaugurated an event celebrating World AIDS Day, organised by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), in New Delhi. He stated, "Let us shun any kind of discrimination in our thoughts, actions and behaviour in our interaction with those who are HIV+ve and have AIDS. Let us do away with nomenclatures such as “AIDS/HIV communities”. Let us not bracket people who suffer from and have survived various diseases."
“While we have travelled a long distance in our fight against AIDS and HIV, there are still some significant milestones that need to be achieved for making the country free of HIV AIDS by 2030, such as the lingering pockets of stigma and discrimination against those who have or have had AIDS”, he added. According to an official press release, Dr Harsh Vardhan commended the immense contribution of the partner communities who have played a yeoman role in spreading information about the disease, to dispel misinformation, fear and apprehensions, and helped people to access testing and treating services of NACO.
“You are our pillars of strength who have built bridges with the underserved, un-served and marginalised communities”, he stated. The global theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Communities Make A Difference’. At the event, he awarded the various Red Ribbon Clubs which have mobilised the youth and communities across the country. More than 1200 Red Ribbon Clubs have contributed to this collective effort, he stated.
Speaking at the event, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that during 2018-19, around 79% of people living with HIV knew their HIV status, 82% diagnosed with HIV infection are receiving free antiretroviral therapy and 79% are virally suppressed. This means we are on the right track and our continued efforts coupled with calibrated momentum shall make this target achievable.
“One of the unique quests is adaptability and customization of strategies according to the need of the hour. NACO has revived and revamped its conventional prevention strategies to achieve new targets. NACO is focusing on the combination of prevention tools and methods that are needed to end the AIDS epidemic.”
Dr Harsh Vardhan added that the programme has also given focused attention to the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV. The Union Minister emphasized upon the newer steps which are being taken by the Government of India to achieve Sustainable Development Goal of ending the epidemic of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.