AIDS stigma more injurious than AIDS virus declares Manipur’s AIDS ambassador

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IMPHAL, Dec 9: ‘It is not HIV/AIDS that kills people but the stigma and discrimination of the society’ said Pradeep Kumar, Mister Manipur ’07, and ambassador of Manipur Aids Control Society on HIV/AIDS.

Pradeep Kumar who himself is HIV positive, stated this during a one day constituency level convention on HIV/AIDS of the Manipur Legislative Forum on HIV/AIDS (MLFA) held today at Sugnu Makha Leikai organized by the CREDEO.

Official sources said that Sugnu area also falls under the list of high rate of HIV/AIDS.

Works minister K. Ranjit, graced the function as the chief guest, Oinam MLA cum secretary MLFA, Dr. I. Ibohalbi as the guest of the honour and the president of the CREDEO presided over the convention.

Besides officials of MACS, which included Deputy Director, Dr. S. Manikanta, UNAIDS co-ordinator, Sushil Huidrom, district level medical officers etc also attended the convention.

While delivering his chief guest speech, Works minister, K. Ranjit, informed the motive of the convention as not only to reduce the stigma and discrimination attached with HIV/AIDS but to give care and support to the PLHA.

He also urged the gathering not to participate and listen only but to share the knowledge with friends and family.

In his guest of honour speech, Dr. Ibohalbi, secretary of MLFA, revealed that there are about 36,000 PLHA in Manipur and scores who have died before the invention of ART.

Today with the introduction of ART the disease becomes manageable adding it is available in almost all the district free of cost. Besides that to get consultation and necessary assistance to the PLHA 61 places is identified which included CHCs, District hospital, PHCs etc.

While giving the reason of the need of the involvement of legislators or political leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Ibohalbi asserted that it was a set up of the UN nation. The UN felt it was must for the political leaders to intervene on HIV/AIDS for the alarming rate of fatality by the disease. According to him about 49 millions people were killed during the two world wars while of the 65 millions of PLHA about 35 millions died of the disease and still counting.

He revealed that the rate of HIV/AIDS in the state is consistent adding about 2 to 3 thousand children are living with the virus and there are similar rate of widows with the virus.

Dr. Ibohalbi maintained that the involvement of the legislators not only aims to prevent or reduce HIV/AIDS but also aims to provide the proper need and care for the parentless children and widows with setting up economic generation programmes under the Government undertaking.

The recent release of a revision policy of Government on HIV/AIDS by the Governor was one glaring example of the commitment of the political leaders to fight against the disease and asserted that the MLFA is targeting to complete the constituency level convention by January 2011.

Pradeep Kumar, the Ambassador of MACS, in his testimony stated HIV/AIDS is manageable with the introduction of ART. He recalled how he once live in fear to disclose his status which had slowly landed him on his bed barely able to walk. ‘Later I decided to do something for the society instead of rotting on the bed so that no one should suffer any more like I did’, said Pradeep Kumar adding with strong determination he moved on and took up body building coupled with the Anti Retro-viral Treatment. He also advised those PLHA to take ART regularly without any gap.

According to him ‘it is not HIV/AIDS that kills but the stigma and discrimination of the society’ and appealed those hiding with the virus to come to the main stream instead and join the fight against the disease. With strong determination one can also live a normal life again like he is doing and set encouragement for those living in fear, said Pradeep Kumar.

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