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World #Aids Day 2010: What Can I Do To Help Stop AIDS? [5 Measures]

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When the first few cases of AIDS were discovered around the world, India had none. Today, after almost 25 years of that, India has almost 2.5 million people living with AIDS. Around the world, this number tops 33 million. The shocking stats alone are enough to appall you of the reality. Almost 7000 people are dying everyday due to AIDS, around the world. In 2008, around 430,000 children under 15 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children living with HIV to 2.1 million. About half of all new adult HIV infections occur among 15-24 year olds. As of 2008, approximately 14 million children had lost one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS.

India lacks the scientific laboratories, research facilities, equipment, and medical personnel to deal with an AIDS epidemic. In addition, factors such as cultural taboos against discussion of sexual practices, poor coordination between local health authorities and their communities, widespread poverty and malnutrition, and a lack of capacity to test and store blood would severely hinder the ability of the Government to control AIDS if the disease did become widespread.

According to popular studies, a vast majority of infections occur through heterosexual sex (80%), and is concentrated among high risk groups including sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users as well as truck drivers and migrant workers.

Considering the vastness and diversity of India, spreading the word about AIDS is a tedious process and could take years, by which the number of infected would have risen. An effective way of spreading the word could be launching of a pan-India campaign which starts simultaneously in all states, making use of traditional folk media tools such as nukkad and street theater, reaching out to the locals in the local dialect.

Even though the Government has come out with schemes and campaigns, it would be unreasonable to expect the Government to do anything and sit like ducks and wait for change to happen. It is out time to get up, get out and get things going. Here are 5 steps you can take to prevent the spread of AIDS.

So what can I do to prevent AIDS?

There are umpteen ways to working out to end the epidemic plaguing the society, however, hereby we enlist 5 easy and feasible ways by which you can initiate the movement.

1) Education:

While this is the toughest way, it is the most important way to stop AIDS. Education here will have three aspects to it. First, we must work on educating ourselves. We cannot really go on talking about AIDS if we ourselves are not fully aware of what the disease is all about. Right? Once you have educated yourself, you will have to work on the other two aspects, educating the literate and educating the illiterate. If you think the former is easier than the latter, then trust us, both are equally tough, or easy. The rate of premarital and teenage sex is increasing by leaps and bounds everyday. While this is true and virtually unstoppable, it is our moral responsibility to stay safe ourselves and educate our peers on the use of contraceptives.

Similarly, community initiatives could work well in informing and educating illiterate masses. Grouping up with friends to perform a simple street drama educating people about AIDS is a cost effective, easy way to start off.

2) Promote and practice safe sex:

A very essential part of preventing AIDS from spreading is both promotion and practice of safe sex only. Remember that your life is paramount, and risking the same in the name of pleasure would be putting many lives on risk. You must advocate the use of condoms at all times during a sexual intercourse. Free condoms are available at Govt run hospitals and dispensaries. Many university campuses also have condom vending machines. Remember, it’s your life.

3) Use new needles and blades only:

We don’t really need to expand much on this one, do we? Used needles and blades are a major cause of the spread of the HIV virus. Make sure that your nurse uses a fresh injection and your barber uses a fresh blade, every time he/she needs it. Spread the word, people still don’t know.

4) Make better use of computing:

Blogging, facebooking and tweeting have started growing exponentially in India (and dominate many countries around the world). Rather than spending time surfing the social network for things that don’t matter much to you, start a social network campaign to spread the word about the disease. Start a blog to disseminate information and research, start a Facebook page to engage community volunteerism and spread awareness, create a twitter account to spread the word. This is by far the easiest way to reach out to the masses and start your journey towards online activism.

5) Donate time, resources, money:

Once a week, or month, volunteer some free time to work with NGOs working in the sphere of AIDS. There are a number of NGOs out there who need dedicated volunteers like yourself to help them in research, assistance and much more. Check out this list of NGOs working on AIDS across India and get cracking.

The above mentioned steps are not the ultimate or  best steps but are sure to get you started on the path to help stop the epidemic. If you have suggestions and ideas please let us know by dropping a comment in the box below or tweeting us @YouthKiAwaaz.

P.S: Get yourself tested for HIV today.

Image courtesy: http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/002604.html [must follow]

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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