New Delhi, July 23 IANS | 3 months ago

The health ministry Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the communication and information technology ministry to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS.

"Big hospitals may lead to better treatment, but if state-of-the-art IT education tools are used to disseminate information that will prevent killer infections, the investment is more worthwhile," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said after signing the MoU.

The partnership between the health ministry's Department of AIDS Control and the Department of IT and Telecommunications is expected to engender a society with heightened know-how on HIV infections.

The networks of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (in Mumbai and Delhi) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (rest of India) will be the chief vehicles of this "mainstreaming" of AIDS awareness.

This strategic tie-up is expected to give a boost to the ministry's entrenched activities like putting up banners, posters, etc. in areas dominated by risk groups and display of other promotional material in public spaces.

Combating discrimination of HIV-AIDS victims is also part of the drive.

"The goal of zero-HIV incidence cannot be achieved only unless the disease's spread is addressed holistically. Mainstreaming and partnership building are keys in the national AIDS control programme's multi-sectoral response," Harsh Vardhan said.

A statement from the health ministry said the Department of AIDS Control is already providing preventive, care and support treatment services through 1,873 targeted interventions, and its network of 1,131 STI Clinics, 1,137 blood banks, over 15,000 integrated counselling and other infrastructure.

The minister said information about these services needs to reach all the people in the country, especially those who are most at risk regarding HIV. At present, India has 2.1 million people with HIV infection -- roughly 0.27 percent of the population. About 90 percent are in the 15-49 age group.

(Posted on 23-07-2014)

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