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Manmohan for national movement to check AIDS

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI, NOV. 7. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has called fora national movement to check the spread of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is no longer just a public health issue, but one of the most serious socio-economic and developmental concerns, he told the National Students and Youth Parliament here today. "If not checked, it can hurt our ambitions in the areas of growth and development serious." Dr. Singh said his Government was committed to strengthening the national AIDS control efforts. Different Ministries have joined hands in evolving a national action plan to spread awareness and improve access to services related to HIV/AIDS. "However, these efforts will require more and more partners and active participation from all sections of society to create a people's movement."

In this context, he said it were the youths who were the greatest hope. In countries where the spread of HIV is declining, it is primarily because the youths are learning to protect themselves from getting infected with HIV.

Everyday, about 6,000 young people worldwide get infected because they lack information, knowledge and the necessary skill to protect themselves. According to an estimate by the National AIDS Control Organisation, 35 per cent of reported AIDS victims in India were aged between 15-24 years.

Spreading awareness

In the absence of a preventive vaccine against HIV infection, Dr. Singh said the social vaccine of education and awareness was the only effective method of prevention. Young people can protect themselves only if they have proper and accurate information about HIV/AIDS. "People infected with HIV need society's support and protection. They are not a threat to society and have a right to live a life with dignity and to pursue their occupations without losing their earning power."

The Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who presided over the special session, said the country could be saved from the deadly disease if awareness was generated among the people, particularly the younger generation.

Mr. Shekhawat held child marriage as one of the reasons behind the spread of the disease and called upon the social advocates to ensure that it was checked.

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, A. Ramadoss, said the Government was contemplating bringing an Act to check the social discrimination of HIV-AIDS affected patients and control the disease.

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