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The Challenge Ahead

Come December 1 and Manipur, like the rest of the world, will come together to observe World AIDS Day. The significance of the day will not be lost on anyone for the disease has already taken a heavy toll on the people of Manipur and without sounding alarmist it will not be wrong if we say that the situation in Manipur today is frightening. According to statistics released by the Manipur AIDS Control Society, till September 2002, the number of people who tested positive for HIV in Manipur stood at 13,979 including 2030 women while the number of AIDS cases was 1457.
The deaths so far reported stood at 246, according to MACS. Of course we know that the figures trotted out by MACS are just the tip of the ice berg for a number of cases must have gone unregistered. This then is the AIDS scenario in Manipur and even as we come together to observe the day it would be in the fitness of things if all of us, the Government agencies, the media and the voluntary organizations and each and every individual look towards how to meet the challenge ahead. Today it has become clear that AIDS is no longer confined to any particular group of people but has permeated into the general population and this is what adds to the frightening scenario.
It is our belief that the fight against AIDS has to be three pronged. One of course is the scientific research conducted the world over to find a cure or a vaccine and the other is the awareness drive or rather the campaign against the disease in any form, through the media, the numerous seminars, the painting and essay competition for kids etc. The third point which is closely linked to the awareness drive, and which we feel is the most important, is the fight against the disease at the social level.
To many AIDS is not a disease say, like cancer or Hepatitis B though these two diseases are equally fatal. In many parts of the country, including Manipur, AIDS has come to be closely associated with the moral behavior and discipline of an individual. And this is where the fight against the disease at the social level gains credence. It is recognition of this need that the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Stigma and Discrimination: Live and Let Live.”
Intrinsic in this theme is the need to remove any stigma attached to AIDS patient or HIV infected people and while we are happy to note that there is not much discrimination against AIDS patient or HIV infected people in Manipur, we feel more can be done on this point and this is where the role of Government agencies, media and the voluntary organizations becomes important.
AIDS is fatal, we know but as a human society we owe it to all the afflicted people to make them feel wanted and loved. Manipur has an AIDS policy and we hope that policy will cover this point too. We also feel it would help if we shed off our prudishness and become a little more open about sex, for it has become clear that sexual contacts have become one of main factors for the rapid spread of the disease. Certainly sex education in schools is one of the options that can be explored by the authority.
(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

The Challenge Ahead
Come December 1 and Manipur, like the rest of the world, will come together to observe World AIDS Day. The significance of the day will not be lost on anyone for the disease has already taken a heavy toll on the people of Manipur and without sounding alarmist it will not be wrong if we say that the situation in Manipur today is frightening. According to statistics released by the Manipur AIDS Control Society, till September 2002, the number of people who tested positive for HIV in Manipur stood at 13,979 including 2030 women while the number of AIDS cases was 1457.
The deaths so far reported stood at 246, according to MACS. Of course we know that the figures trotted out by MACS are just the tip of the ice berg for a number of cases must have gone unregistered. This then is the AIDS scenario in Manipur and even as we come together to observe the day it would be in the fitness of things if all of us, the Government agencies, the media and the voluntary organizations and each and every individual look towards how to meet the challenge ahead. Today it has become clear that AIDS is no longer confined to any particular group of people but has permeated into the general population and this is what adds to the frightening scenario.
It is our belief that the fight against AIDS has to be three pronged. One of course is the scientific research conducted the world over to find a cure or a vaccine and the other is the awareness drive or rather the campaign against the disease in any form, through the media, the numerous seminars, the painting and essay competition for kids etc. The third point which is closely linked to the awareness drive, and which we feel is the most important, is the fight against the disease at the social level.
To many AIDS is not a disease say, like cancer or Hepatitis B though these two diseases are equally fatal. In many parts of the country, including Manipur, AIDS has come to be closely associated with the moral behavior and discipline of an individual. And this is where the fight against the disease at the social level gains credence. It is recognition of this need that the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Stigma and Discrimination: Live and Let Live.” Intrinsic in this theme is the need to remove any stigma attached to AIDS patient or HIV infected people and while we are happy to note that there is not much discrimination against AIDS patient or HIV infected people in Manipur, we feel more can be done on this point and this is where the role of Government agencies, media and the voluntary organizations becomes important.
AIDS is fatal, we know but as a human society we owe it to all the afflicted people to make them feel wanted and loved. Manipur has an AIDS policy and we hope that policy will cover this point too. We also feel it would help if we shed off our prudishness and become a little more open about sex, for it has become clear that sexual contacts have become one of main factors for the rapid spread of the disease. Certainly sex education in schools is one of the options that can be explored by the authority.
(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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