Poets take up fight against AIDS



Dharamshala (March 23): A district-level poetic symposium was organized at the office of the Chief Medical Officer, Kangra, under the aegis of HP State AIDS Control Society, in collaboration with Rachna Sahitya Evam Kala Manch and Himachal Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Kangra. The participants called for open discussion to fight HIV/AIDS.

The event was presided over by Retd Jt director, health, Dr Kuldeep Sharma, who is a prominent expert on HIV/AIDS. He stated that women are vulnerable to STI and HIV due to lack of access to correct information, and an environment which makes discussing issues around sexuality a taboo adds to their vulnerability. Deliberating on the services for HIV under the National AIDS Programme, he told that anybody can get free and confidential HIV test at ICTC. He also stated that children of HIV positive are given monthly financial assistance of Rs 300 to Rs 700 and an amount of Rs 18 lakh is being disbursed to 329 beneficiaries in the district directly through bank accounts. “Condoms have been given for free distribution at all Indian Oil petrol pumps. Red ribbon clubs have been formed in colleges and ITIs to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS. Stigma and discrimination is a barrier to access to services, and we should accept the people living with HIV AIDS as the disease is not spread by causal contact,” he added.

Dr Sushil Phull, organizing secretary of the event, told that over 15 poets attended the workshop and were given training inputs on HIV related services. The poets included Suresh Bhardwaj “Nirash”, Arjun Dev Kanaujia, Harikrishna Murari, RC Mastana, Dr Piyush Guleri, Suman Sekhar, Amar Tanotra, Trilok Mehra, Durgesh Nandan, Dr Shammi Sharma, and Nikhil Sharma. The gathering was addressed by Dr Suman Saxena, district family planning officer, Dr Shahshi Sharma, district eye mobile unit in-charge and Dr RK Sood, DAPO Kangra.

They discussed their problems relating to decision making and societal pressures. All expressed solidarity for the cause of women empowerment and pledged to spread the message of AIDS awareness in their respective forums. Dr Kuldeep Sharma implored on all to talk openly rather than suggestively, as the audience does not understand words hidden between the lines.

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