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“No one should discriminate against HIV Affected women and children” urges Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India

UNICEF and UNAIDS mark the second anniversary of Unite For Children Unite Against AIDS campaign by pledging to fight the stigma and discrimination faced by HIV/AIDS affected women and children.

New Delhi, 25 October 2007 – Declaring that “raising awareness is the key to fight the stigma and discrimination faced by the HIV positive people especially women and children”, Smt. Pratibha Patil, President of India pledged that the campaign will have her full support and guidance to fight the ignorance, myths and misconceptions that are surrounding HIV/AIDS.

To mark the second anniversary of Unite For Children Unite Against AIDS campaign and to increase the fight against stigma and discrimination faced by HIV/AIDS affected women and children, a delegation comprising of representatives from the HIV positive network, peer educators and representatives from Ministry of Women and Child Development, NACO, UNICEF and UNAIDS met the President Smt. Pratibha Patil today.

HIV positive children and their mothers shared their life experiences with Smt. Pratibha Patil. The President  also met with peer educators who presented her with artwork of their messages on stigma and discrimination.

Anand (name changed), a HIV positive child presented Suraksha Bandhan (a blue and red band in which blue color represents children and red in the fight against HIV/AIDS) to Smt. Pratibha Patil as a sign of solidarity in the fight against the disease.

Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS is the largest campaign ever mounted to bring the world’s attention to the global impact of HIV/AIDS on children and young people. It also recognizes and addresses the needs of their caregivers. It offers urgent and specific interventions and calls to action. UNICEF and UNAIDS are leading the initiative along with partners from all sectors of society, including governments, NGOs, academic institutions, faith-based groups, community groups and youth and sports organizations.

Smt. Pratibha Patil stressed the need for a focused campaign, which aims to reduce the stigma and discrimination incidents, age appropriate treatment for all and most importantly treatment and testing facilities to be set up at the Primary Health Centre level for easy access for people.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Dennis Broun, Country Coordinator, UNAIDS said that “since its launch two years ago, on 25th October 2005, the campaign has transformed the lives of thousands of children and their families. Great progress has been achieved on prevention and early detection of HIV infection in children, access to care and treatment and the fight against discrimination, notably in schools. Many famous personalities have supported this fight and their engagement has been crucial.  There is more to be done and the whole UN family will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS in India”.

Note for the Editor:
The number of people living with HIV /AIDS in India is estimated to be 2.0- 3.1 million giving a national adult prevalence of 0.36 percent. Women account for almost 39% of all HIV infections.

It is estimated that 70,000 children below the age of 15 are infected with HIV in India and 21,000 children are infected every year through mother to child transmission. A small proportion is infected by unsafe injections and infected blood transfusions.

Nearly half of the reported AIDS cases are in the age group 15-29 years.

Stigma and Discrimination - HIV positive children face discrimination in their everyday life. This stigma and discrimination practiced by the general public against the HIV positive children denies their access to education, health and many other crucial public services. It is clear from various studies that HIV positive children who are being denied an education based on their HIV status are due to lack of knowledge or awareness about how HIV/AIDS spreads or does not.

The Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS campaign focuses on health and education settings, the most crucial services, which are necessary for physical, emotional and intellectual well being and growth of a person. And the campaign creates awareness on the modes of HIV/AIDS transmission, why HIV positive people deserve our respect and why HIV positive people should have uninterrupted access to all public services.


* Peer educators are young people from communities who are trained to reach out to other young people from their communities to raise full awareness on the issue of HIV and AIDS; to provide them with skills to protect themselves from acquiring the infection and to access services such as HIV testing facilities if required.

 

For more details, please contact:
Geeta Bandi-Phillips, Advocacy and Communications Officer, UNICEF at 981 810 3787 (mob) or 011 24690455 (landline)

 

 

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