Indian Red Cross Society held its 10th Red Cross HIV/AIDS Consortium meeting on 6th July 2011. The consortium was constituted in the year 2006 under the Chairmanship of Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General of the Society. Several National Societies, the ICRC and the IFRC have been members of this consortium.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the ICRC, the Federation and Heads of Delegations of the Canadian, Spanish, German & Hong Kong Red Cross Societies.
The Canadian Red Cross made a presentation on the findings of an evaluation of the programme supported by them in the state of Tamil Nadu. In the evaluation report it has been mentioned that the educational institutions, which have YPEP programme, the level of awareness of the students was very high in comparison to those institutions where this programme is not being implemented.
Dr. S.P. Agarwal in his address said that this forum gives all the partners the opportunity to share their experiences, training material & module, evaluation techniques and knowledge resources. While quoting the NACO figures, Dr. Agarwal informed ; “it is estimated that India had approximately 1.2 lakh new HIV infections in 2009, as against 2.7 lakh in 2000. While this trend is evident in most states, some low prevalence states have shown a slight increase in the number of new infections over the past two years, that underscores the need for the programme to focus more on the se states with low prevalence, but high vulnerability.”
He also stressed the need for Red Cross volunteers to work especially in areas where there are high prevalence of cases to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. He added that besides creating awareness in the communities, we should focus on care & support as well as fight stigma and discrimination. In fact, HIV/AIDS issue should be discussed, albeit briefly, in other disaster, water sanitation and health related meetings.
NACO expert informed that now new HIV cases are declining and India is doing very well in controlling the disease. However, he said that the number cases have increased in those states where the awareness and prevention programmes are not in place.
“Let’s concentrate now on drug users and prepare a short video capturing salient feature of our programme, he added. He urged all the partners to maintain the momentum and requested Dr. Rewari for enhanced cooperation with IRC for better results.