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NGO members vow to fight ostracism

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, MAY 16. Lighted candles arranged in the shape of a twisted ribbon — symbol of the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) — spread the fire of awareness of AIDS and the need for caring for victims at the International Candlelight Memorial Day.

Standing around candles, which illuminated the dark room, and holding a lighted candle each, members of non-governmental organisations here today read aloud the pledge to recall the plight of AIDS victims and give a clarion call for action.

They resolved that on the International Candlelight Memorial Day, they would fully offer themselves for working towards prevention of the disease. Taking note of the fact that several people fell victim to AIDS, they gave an assurance that they would fully involve themselves to prevent more deaths. They also assured that they would work against the trend of social ostracism of the victims, respect their feelings and protect their rights. The members resolved that they would involve the public to work for the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

The campaign is part of a programme of the Global Health Council, which encouraged communities and individuals to get involved in HIV/AIDS work, an official release said. The council provided all registered communities with the framework to effectively organise a memorial in their communities.

The campaign was held to honour and remember 28 million people who died of AIDS, to support 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS and to protect all those who were not infected with HIV/AIDS.

The first memorial was held in 1983 when not more than a few thousand AIDS deaths were recorded. The goal of the theme was to encourage communities to incorporate action-oriented activities, which extended beyond the official candlelight event. It was an opportunity to discuss not only the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community but also address prevention, care, treatment and education.

The commitment served to strengthen ties within the community and empower individuals to take action towards the changing face of the disease. Volunteers of Positive Network and Sagodhar and TANSACS staff participated.

Noori, a participant said, "Lighting the candle and taking the pledge helps me remember so many of my friends who died of AIDS." It also inspired her work for AIDS patients with a greater zeal.

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