With 8853 persons contacting fatal disease AIDS in Himachal Pradesh in 2016, the government is approaching all educational institutions to spread awareness on HIV and measures to control it. The state Health department has sought the help of Education department to aware masses on HIV by way of short movies, banners and hoardings to achieve the target of becoming AIDS free by 2030.

“All the schools have been asked to discuss informatory messages on HIV/AIDS during morning assemblies in the schools,” Dr Manmohan Sharma, Director, Elementary Education said. All the Deputy Director Education, Block Elementary Education Officers and principals of District Institutes of Education Training have been asked to implement the awareness campaign, designed by Director, Health Services, he said. Officials of State AIDS Control Society said the HIV disease is driven by many socio-economic factors and the present health services are not sufficient to address the cause and consequences of the disease.

“After detailed discussions, it has come to light that non-health sector can play a vital role in reducing vulnerability and mitigation of its impact on both the infected and impacted,” officials said. This multi-pronged strategy has resulted in inclusion of all schools in spreading the message of AIDS awareness campaign and all the schools have been asked to submit compliance report within 15 days.

“Under the awareness campaign, students would be told about the disease and various activities including preparing slogans and hoardings would also be organized in schools,” Meena Kumari, coordinator, state AIDS Control Society told The Statesman.

Besides this, about 250 red ribbon clubs and 257 Nehru Youth Kendras have been founded and linked with special drive being carried out by Aids Control Society, according to NACO guidelines. The clubs would be asked to help the patients in fighting the social stigma of this disease. Further, the students would be asked to encourage the locals, especially pregnant women in the area to go for HIV testing and, that the testing facility is being provided free of cost at all health institutions.

In addition, the state AIDS Control Society has constituted Red ribbon at the college level to create awareness among students themselves as youth are more vulnerable to HIV infection. In order to check and control the migration of HIV with blood transfusion, efforts were being made to ensure 100 percent pure blood transfusion to patients in the hospitals. Four Blood transfusion vans have been deployed in the state; besides blood donation vans were collecting the blood from various blood camps to cater to the requirement.

It is worthwhile to mention here that more than 18.5 lakh people went for voluntary HIV testing through Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) in 2016, out of which over 8853 persons were tested positive for the disease.