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Press Release 2nd April : IRCS Consortium for HIV Program
The fifth Red Cross HIV/AIDS Consortium was held on April 2nd -3rd, 2008 at Disaster Management Centre, National Headquarters, Indian Red Cross Society. The Consortium has come a long way when it was started with seven partners in 2006. Today it has nine members. But there are more willing to join. It is being hoped that with the support of all the members the HIV/AIDS programme of IRCS would be able to make an impact upon lives of the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).
While briefly providing the ‘Overview of Red Cross HIV/AIDS India Consortium Partners Meeting’ Prof. Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General, IRCS & Chairman Consortium stated that HIV/AIDS poses one of the major public health challenges undermining the progress of the developing countries in the world. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has a number of initiatives to check the growth and make all possible efforts to reverse the trend of the disease. Indian Red Cross is complementing towards the goals of the Millennium Development and International Federation’s Global Agenda. He said that under the proposed expansion plan, IRCS looks forward to working in three new States, increasing the programme coverage from 15 to 30 Districts and IRCS HIV Strategy for 2009-2012 is being worked out. He further mentioned that IRCS is open
to any suggestions on improving the log frame, process of evaluation and means of monitoring, if the members desire so.
Dr. S.K. Bhattacharya, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research and Chief Guest of the meeting stated that HIV/AIDS is a matter of global concern. According to National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), there are an estimated 2.5 million HIV patients in India. He further mentioned that NACO being the nodal agency is providing treatment to PLHIVs and that’s one area where Indian Red Cross may complement the efforts. Therefore the Society should continue complementing the Government’s initiative in prevention and cure of the disease

Mr. Al Panico, Head of Regional Delegation, South Asian Regional Delegation stated that Global Alliance on HIV/AIDS was launched in December 2006 and joined by 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Red Cross India Consortium to combat HIV/AIDS synergizes the Global Alliance on HIV/AIDS. He further stressed that the vulnerability of women should be tackled by providing comprehensive care and propagating the gender equality under the AIDS programme.

Dr. B.B. Rewari, National Programme Officer, NACO in his presentation on HIV/ AIDS Indian Scenario stated that there are an estimated 25 lakh people living with HIV in India. The National AIDS Control Organization has undertaken specific actions to control and reverse the epidemic and its efforts have yielded significant results as is evident by declining HIV prevalence rates. He further mentioned that the key challenge is to come out with a vaccine. He further mentioned that for the past two years, NACO has been trying to initiate a program in nutrition support but could not achieve success and this is the area where Red Cross has carved a niche for itself. NACO continues to support IRCS in its interventions in combating HIV/AIDS.
The members expressed their satisfaction on the progress made and suggested that efforts should continue in scaling up the program to achieve greater results.
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