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Sunday, December 01, 2002

World AIDS Day

Today is the first day of December. Already?!! ... Gosh!... 2002 has flown so quickly.

The world over, 1st of December is observed as the World AIDS Day. It is the day on which mankind renews its pledge to fight the menace of AIDS. The Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome is probably the biggest medical challenge faced by mankind since the start of life on the planet Earth. It is no surprise therefore that the maximum amount of medical research is aimed at combating this disease and halting its exponential spread (which is already at epidemic proportions!).

More than the medical challenge that the disease represents, the social challenges that it has created, are much more tougher to face and counter. And the only way to fight the social battle against AIDS is through education and awareness. Even after many years people still are not even aware of the threat posed by AIDS and even if they do, they still have many misconceptions about it. They still think AIDS can spread through contact. They still think a person with HIV infection already has AIDS. They still think the best way to treat an AIDS patient is to isolate him and ostracize him from the community. The list of misconceptions just goes on and on... and on! Education and awareness is the need of the hour, and more money and resources, than are currently used, should be devoted to this cause than spending millions upon millions on the medical research (which of course is very important too!)

www.linkandthink.org has come up with a novel concept of spreading awareness about AIDS and resources related to combating it, in the online world. It has urged webmasters and webloggers the world over, to blog (on December 1st) about AIDS, about the efforts that are going on to halt its spread and about the efforts that are going into educating the masses.

So, I thought... why not contribute my mite towards this praiseworthy initiative (and I urge you to do so too! ... just one day, at least!).

First of all... some staggering statistics...

As of 31st October 2002, the total number of reported AIDS cases in India was 41606 (31230 males and 10376 females) with about 900 cases being reported every month!! And this is just the reported number. The actual number has to be so staggering that it is beyond my comprehension!!! Well, 84.30% of these cases were infected through sexual transmission, 3.01% cases through improper transfusion of blood and blood products, 2.93% cases were infected through use of unsafe injectable instruments and 2.60% cases were infected via perinatal transmission.
If we look at these figures geographically, Tamil Nadu tops the list of most infected states in India with 18276 AIDS cases reported. Maharashtra comes next with 8723 cases. Arunachal Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep are at the bottom of the list with no cases of AIDS reported from there. Mumbai alone has around 1165 cases of AIDS patients.

Don't get misled by figures though! ... You know what they say about icebergs, don't you?! By the way, these statistics were courtesy of the HIV/AIDS Surveillance of India, carried out by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), India.

Now, a whole host of programmes will be organized all over the world on the account of World AIDS Day. One such event that is being organized in Mumbai is Hope 2002 - Second International Conference on Substance Abuse and HIV. It will commence today and continue for three days, at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai and is being organized by the Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation and Research Centre (DIARRC).

There are of course many many other campaigns initiated by various NGOs. One such awareness campaign being run in Mumbai is the thought-provoking campaign run by MDACS, which asks the question... Balbir Pasha ko AIDS hoga kya?.

And finally, how can the entertainment industry lag behind??... MTV India has organized the MTV Music Summit for AIDS, to be held 5 PM onwards today at the MMRDA grounds, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai, aimed at spreading AIDS awareness. It will be graced by artistes of the likes of Alisha, Bombay Vikings, KK, Mahalaxmi, Mehnaz, Shaan, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Shweta Shetty, Silk Route & Vasundhara Das. Bollywood stars like Bipasha Basu, Jackie Shroff, John Abraham, Sharad Kapoor and Pooja Bhatt, etc. will also be there.

Then there is the Levi's® Battle Against AIDS Rock Concert at Hamsadhwani Theatre, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. It is sponsored by Levi Strauss Foundation in association with Freedom Foundation, an NGO working with AIDS patients. It will feature the country's finest rock music talent. New Delhi's Them Clones, Envision and Orange Street, Chennai's Moksha and Mumbai's Pentagram will rock the evening in New Delhi.

However, all this is nothing when one matches this against the ceseless, selfless and tireless work carried out by the foot soldiers of various NGOs and Governmental organizations at the grass-roots level to educate the masses to fight the battle against AIDS. While more (lot more) needs to be done, this is a small step and being an optimistic, I'm sure, by contributing bit by one tiny bit, we will triumph over the evil Dark Lord called AIDS.



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Sameer/Male/27. Hails from India/Maharashtra/Mumbai/Prabhadevi, speaks Marathi, English and Hindi. Spends 60% of daytime online. Uses a Faster (1M+) connection. And likes Reading/Computers.