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Sharing what they learnt about AIDS

Staff Reporter

150 children get their doubts clarified on the disease in an interactive session 150 children got their doubts clarified on HIV/AIDS in an interactive session organised by Karunalaya

CHENNAI: On Monday afternoon, Vithiya, Nathiya, Bavani, Rajesh Kumar and Murali, all under 15, told a large audience at Memorial Hall here what they had learnt about HIV and AIDS.

The five children initially spoke about HIV, venereal disease and using condoms, dispelling myths about the infection. They later fielded with élan questions about how condoms prevent the spread of HIV, when AIDS was detected and the relationship existed between jaundice and AIDS among others.

Around 150 children and 90 women from Self Help Groups listened to them and had their doubts clarified in the interactive session, organised by Karunalaya Social Service Society in the city.

Around 10 per cent of street and working children in North Chennai suffer from venereal disease (VD), according to a study conducted by the Society. The study, conducted from 2002 to 2005, covered more than 3,500 children, in a project supported by the Chennai Corporation AIDS Prevention And Control Society (CAPACS). The high prevalence is mostly due to the sexual abuse of the children, said Paul Sunder Singh, director of Karunalaya.

"We felt that the children will pay better attention to those from their age group. Awareness of HIV will also spread in informal ways through peer educators."

Nathiya captured hearts and won the praise of Dharam Singh, deputy director, IEC, CAPACS, with her moving request to the audience to not be prejudiced against those with HIV. "If I am diagnosed with HIV tomorrow, will you push me away?" she asked. N. Usmaan of the STD Department, Government General Hospital, inaugurated the event. He congratulated the children for impartially explaining all methods by which HIV could spread and be prevented. Mr. Singh reminded the audience that 1097 was the helpline initiated by CAPACS to clear doubts on AIDS. Mr. Sunder Singh said the children would handle formal programmes in corporation and private schools, besides continuing informal interaction to improve awareness of HIV/AIDS among children. Karunalaya can be reached at 25911214.

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