‘Recommit to prevent AIDS related deaths in Nagaland’
Kohima, May 20: With around 1521 AIDS related deaths since 1999, Nagaland today observed 35th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial with call for Nagaland Legislators Forum on AIDS (NLFA) and the policy makers, including NSACS to recommit towards preventing further AIDS related deaths in the State.
As the State Government Department, specially Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS) remaining silent on observing the day, different organisations working on creating awareness and various HIV/AIDS related programmes in the State came together today at RHFPC Satellite Centre in Kohima in solidarity with those who died due to the virus.
The memorial held on the theme “Reflect on our past, preparing for our future” was jointly organized by ARK Foundation, Kripa Foundation, Kohima Users Network, Nagaland Users Network, Network of Naga People Living with HIV/AIDS (NNP+) and Kohima NNP+ and FPAI Nagaland Branch.
President of Access to Rights and Knowledge (ARK) Foundation, Ketho said that “with a total number of 23,163 cases in the state (1999 to March 2018), we cannot claim to have done a good job, as we need to do a lot better”.
As long as there is new entry in HIV infection, there will always be a need to provide treatment, he said while lamenting that in treatment sector there have been significant challenges which are being faced in regard to ARV shortage and stock outs, breakdown of CD4 machines, and the lack of a viral load machine in the State.
“Our approach strategy has to shift focus in preventing new infection among the youth population between the age group of 25-34 years as they presently contribute 41% of the HIV infection in the State, and also mull on preventing the ANC and sexual route of transmission in the state, which attributes to 91% of the total mode of HIV transmission in our state,” he said, adding “we have diagnosed the problem, and addressing it should be objective”.
There are 16,983 people living with HIV registered on ART till March 2018, while only 11,444 have been put on ART, he said while also revealing that only 7290 are continuing on ART who needs regular medication, and monitoring test.
Lamenting that 1521 AIDS related deaths have been reported since 1999, he said the working relation and partnership has to start between NSACS and Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme and the NGOs working on AIDS while similar approach has to be formulated with the health department for Viral hepatitis for treatment of HIV and Hepatitis co infections.
Expressing that the major player to get this job done is not only NSACS but NLFA, he stressed on the need to reactivate NLFA. “When there is a massive need for combating AIDS, political will cannot be only confined to contribution Rs 1 lakh per annum and remaining silent on the whole issue through out the year,” he said.
He said legislatures have to budget certain provisions for innovative strategies on top of the NACO stereotype approach which is not yielding a satisfactory result.
“It is time for the Chief Minister to convene the meeting of the AIDS council”, he said.
Senior Journalist H Chishi in his address said HIV is likely to have a greater economic impact than other endemic diseases because it affects primarily adults in the economically most productive years.
Adults aged 15 to 50 are usually the economic backbone of their families and their communities, on whom both young and elderly parents rely for support, he said.
Calling for a concerted effort towards curbing further infection of HIV/AIDS in the State, Chishi also highlighted the various policies and programmes of the Government. He also highlighted the UNAIDS strategy 90:90:90 set to end AIDS disease by the end of the year 2030, which aims to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.
President of N-NagaDAO, Abou Mere recalled that in the past there used to be lots of discrimination against the PLHIVs to the extent of being outcaste from the society and villages but with intervention and awareness stigma and discrimination has come down. He also expressed happiness over the involvement of churches in creating awareness on HIV/AIDS.
Nonetheless, he lamented that the Government has become complacent over the issue of HIV/AIDS in the State. He said that earlier the approach used to be on mission mode but now the focus has been on project mode, which needs to be reviewed because HIV/AIDS does not discriminate anybody and it can infect everyone, including the most productive group of the society.
Dwelling on the significance of the day, President of Nagaland Network of PLHIV, Lanu said the day serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS.
The programme commenced with Pastor of Union Baptist Church, Rev Dr Rachulie Vihienuo while special number was presented Kezevino Sogotsu. (Page News Service)