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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Â 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]