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AIDS: Still a long way to go

india Updated: Dec 01, 2006 18:28 IST
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There is more AIDS awareness today but not enough, concur Parmeshwar Godrej, Sharmila Tagore and Shilpa Shetty.

Parmeshwar Godrej: There has been a huge wave of AIDS awareness among the educated lot but among the underprivileged class, we have a long way to go. We need to elaborate our concerns.

Recently, I met with Lalloo Prasad Yadav to emphasise the need for the Red Ribbon Express, a train which would start from Kanyakumari and come full circle in a year, dealing with several AIDS-related  

issues.                                          

This concept, initiated by Dr SY Qureshi of the National AIDS Control Organisation, needs to be implemented soon. Lalloo Prasad Yadav was very supportive. Sujata Rao of the organisation has also been working towards the concept.

We have spoken to Praful Patel, too, about the deployment of airplanes to spread awareness. NRIs, corporate houses and TV channels are being involved increasingly.

David Gere, who has a same gender partner, has been flying to India to remove prejudices.

We aim to raise funds by organising an African art exhibition here and abroad. I have been meeting Elton John for travelling to India for a charity concert. If Mira Nair is producing four films on AIDS, the effort is to get big stars to particip ate. However much we do, it is too little.

Sharmila

Tagore

: I ’ve been working with UNICEF as its ambassador, focusing mainly on children affected by AIDS. It’s unethical to ostracise the children. There have been cases of them being thrown out of school and shunned by the community.

The level of awareness in India has definitely gone up but we still have a long way to go.

The stigma of contracting AIDS through unprotected sex is something we are still not ready to talk about.

n rural India, people are not aware of this. In urban areas no one wants to talk about it. Today, India has gone “ahead” of South Africa to become the country with maximum number of AIDS/HIV cases.

I would ask celebrities to come out and help spread AIDS awareness. There will be wider awareness only when there is a synergy between our government and the NGOs.

Shilpa Shetty: I am in Delhi attending the World's AIDS day conference. Today, there is more awareness than ten years ago, but not enough. There is still stigma attached.

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