Children spread awareness about AIDS in Bhubaneswar
Students from various schools in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, recently took part in an 'On-the-Spot' painting competition to spread awareness about the dreaded HIV-AIDS disease.
The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) organized the event and the children responded enthusiastically by turning out intriguing and colourful sketches on their drawing sheets.
With 2.3 million reported cases of AIDS, India similar to the sub-Saharan Africa is on the frontline of the fight against the deadly virus.
Sharing their thoughts, a couple of participating children said that such competitions put the message across to the rural people in a more comprehensive manner.
"It was a very good competition, it creates awareness to the each individual in our country and it was very good because we all our children and we are the future of the nation and we should know that AIDS is such an infection which doesn't have much awareness in the rural areas. Rural people are not aware of it; but due to this competition, we are all getting information regarding this infection," said participating schoolgirl, Praja Priyanka Sahu.
The Secretary of the Odisha chapter of the Indian Red Cross Society, Mangala Prasad Mohanty, said that the children also learn more about AIDS through such initiatives than the academic textbooks.
"At the outset, children who participate in these competitions give a thought and conceptualise as such they research and read about it. So, it generates awareness among them. It is possible that they might not be so interested if we restrict the awareness to textbooks. The country's youth is enriched with information and also help to spread the message of fighting AIDS," said Mangala Prasad Mohanty.
According to UNAIDS, HIV infections vary among sex workers in India -- ranging from around 5 percent for street-based sex workers to up to 29 percent among their brothel-based counterparts in cities like Mumbai, the country's financial capital.
A prevention programme in India's southern state of Kerala has resulted in a drop in HIV prevalence to 13 percent from 25 percent among female sex workers, the report said, while a similar initiative in Mumbai has seen prevalence drop to 13 percent from 45 percent among brothel-based sex workers.
India's success amongst sex workers is attributed to numerous factors including using their peers, who have been trained, and are often easier to relate to, than health workers.
Despite such advances in prevention worldwide, the human and financial costs of HIV/AIDS continue to mount, requiring more support from governments and the international community.