India warned not to stop investment in AIDS awareness
As India gets ready to toast its recent successes in fighting HIV/AIDS, experts have warned that the country should continue raising awareness to maintain its success and not declare an early victory.
India's fight against HIV/AIDS over the past decade has been a great success surpassing other countries' efforts. UNAIDS statistics show India's rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 percent between 2001-2009, the global rate dropped by 25 percent.
UNAIDS country coordinator, Professor Charles Gilks, warned that India should not stop investment in AIDS awareness.
"The worry is that a country like India will prematurely declare victory and think that it can start to reduce the money it is investing in HIV prevention and treatment, and declare a premature victory. If that will happen, the virus will rebound," Gilks said in New Delhi a day ahead of the World AIDS day.
For children infected with the virus, survival is a struggle. Many contracted it from their infected parents.
Many orphanages reject HIV-positive children. Children from families afflicted with HIV are often denied an education, pushed onto the street or forced into child labour, putting them at a greater risk of contracting HIV themselves.
Some doctors refuse to treat or even touch HIV-positive children. Some schools expel or even segregate children because they or their parents are HIV-positive, activists and experts working in the field say.
Activist and Naz founder, Angali Gopalan, who runs an orphanage for HIV/AIDS children in the Indian capital New Delhi, said the biases and prejudices can affect the children deeply.
"You have to ensure that you work at two levels, one is with the school itself, the other is with the kids themselves because you know self-hatred and not feeling good about yourself is so linked to being of, to living with HIV," said Gopalan.
Gopalan said with proper drugs, transmissions can be reduced to zero.