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Extra care would help, say HIV positive

By Our Staff Reporter



Students from city colleges form the `HIV/AIDS ribbon symbol' near the Marina sea front on Wednesday afternoon to commemorate World AIDS Day. — Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

CHENNAI, DEC. 1. "I am HIV positive." K. Shanthi's words echoed through the silence at the Vivekananda Auditorium in Anna University. "I have come here to tell you that people with HIV can lead a normal life," she continued.

The students, silent till then, burst into applause. An advocacy officer with the Positive Women Network, Ms. Shanthi said people with HIV could lead a normal life like anyone else, but some extra care would help. It would also help if people treated HIV positive persons as they would any other normal citizen.

The Positive Women Network, she said, had been founded in 1998 to improve the quality of lives of women living with HIV and their children. She was speaking at a function organised jointly by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the National Service Scheme at Anna University today.

Role for students

In his address, the Minister for Sports and Youth, R.T. Inbathtamilan, said the government was placing a great deal of importance on the participation of students and youth in AIDS awareness programmes. They had started Red Ribbon Clubs in 60 government colleges, with some 74,000 members.

In his presidential address, Anna University Vice-chancellor E. Balagurusamy, said it was sad that Tamil Nadu had the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in India. Ten per cent of the 50-lakh AIDS cases in India were from the State. The University would be glad to extend its support to any programme to create awareness on HIV/AIDS and control it, he promised.

He reminded students that they had a vital role to play in creating AIDS awareness. The students, especially volunteers of the National Service Scheme, should work in the villages to improve the level of awareness on health and hygiene; this would be a great contribution to the country. If there was a greater participation of all sections of the society, problems could be solved without help from the government, Mr. Balagurusamy added.

Susan Mathew, Secretary, Youth Welfare and Sports Development, said the State government was working among 35 lakh women members of various self-help groups to create AIDS awareness. Pointing out that women and girls were more vulnerable to AIDS due to social factors, she called for a social and religious leaders to play a bigger role in combating AIDS.

Members of Green Mask Theatre Society, comprising NSS students of the Madras University performed a mime on the occasion.

The NSS volunteers, who took out a rally from the Rajiv Gandhi statue at Chinna Malai to the University, were administered a pledge by R. Ramprabhu, dean, College of Engineering.

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