Think of AIDS, one thing that comes to mind is the social stigma and myths associated with it. Despite the efforts made by the government, the disease continues to spread and so does the social stigma and taboos for a person affected with the disease. The fear of being stigmatized prevents people from coming forward for testing, accessing condoms or insisting on safer sex, and disclosing their HIV status to sexual partners. Some organizations are hesitant to provide accurate and accessible information about sexuality and sexually transmitted infections even today. While UNAID has formulated a strategy to end AIDS by 2030, India has a long way to go for not only eradicating it but also creating a positive change towards the disease and patients.
Deepalaya Community Development Programme (formerly known as Gender Resource Centre) took the responsibility of creating awareness on the disease this World AIDS Day (1st December). The idea was not only to make them aware about the disease but also to challenge outdated stereotypes, myths and reemphasize the dos and don’ts. More than 60 adolescent girls and women participated in the program in two different sessions.
Ms. Pooja, Ms. Rubina and Ms. Manjit informed the participants about what is HIV, how it spreads, what its symptoms are, how to prevent it and what should be done if someone is found to be HIV positive and what facilities are available in the government dispensaries and hospitals. The participants were also encouraged to ask questions, which were adequately answered to.
Acknowledging the responsibility of a father to its children, Mr. John Rameson, project in-charge, Deepalaya Childrens’ home Gusbethi organized a small awareness session for the adolescent boys. The boys were made aware about the preventive measures and also the stigma related to the disease. It was a humble effort to guide the children before they step into their adult life.