The media, while avoiding sensationalism in reporting on HIV/AIDS, should play a proactive role and disseminate the proper and correct information regarding different aspects of the sensitive issue, argued V.S. Bhaskar, IAS (Commissioner & Secretary to Health & F.W. Department, Government of Assam). Inaugurating a State level advocacy workshop at Guwahati Press Club on 22nd September, he however appreciated the role of media in making people aware of HIV/AIDS in Assam.
The day long media workshop was organized by the Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) in association with the press club, where good number of media persons took part and participated in the interaction programmes.
“Assam is a low prevalence state, but it has more vulnerability,” Bhaskar asserted adding, “Being the gate way to the Northeast, Assam witnesses more and more people coming here from high prevalence neighboring States for various regions.”
He of course claimed that because of the government efforts and media support, the awareness level among different sections of people in the society is increasing. The senior official expected continued media engagement to make more people aware of the HIV/AIDS issue.
Mentionable that Manipur and Nagaland, both bordering Burma (that way the heroin producing Golden Triangle of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) have high rates of HIV/AIDS cases. The entire Northeast with around 5 crore population has thousands of HIV Positive people. The HIV Positive persons have to fight against the infection as well as the social stigma and discrimination.
Addressing the gathering Ms M. Hagzer Barman, IAS (Project Director, ASACS) informed about the State government scheme of free transportation to the HIV infected people for attending the Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre.
“Under this scheme the government bears the travel expenditure of the HIV infected persons who come to the ART centre for treatment,” she said.
Ms Barman also requested the media to spread the information about the Integrated Counselling & Testing Centre (ICTC) and Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) centers, which are being empowered to function for the respective causes.
Participating as a resource person, Ms Rakhi Chakravorty (Consultant CSM, ASACS) highlighted about various activities of the society. She revealed that a total number of 3,308 persons have been detected as HIV Positive in Assam, and over 900 people are diagnosed as AIDS patients. She insisted for more people coming to the Voluntary Blood Testing centers and hence expected media’s sustained support.
“The HIV Positive persons have the same right to leave a dignified life like others in the society. So the society should provide proper care & support to the infected and affected HIV persons,” Ms Chakravorty insisted.
Talking about voluntary blood donation programme, Dr. N.N. Tishya (Deputy Director, ASACS), said that any healthy person of age 18 to 60 years with more than 45 kg weights can donate blood without any problems. He advocated for voluntary blood donation practices among the people such that the safe and sufficient blood can be ensured in need.
Dr. N.N. Sonowal (Assistant Project Director, ASACS) suggested for frequent media awareness programmes and appreciated the imitative of Guwahati Press Club, while offering the vote of thanks.