Govt to engage HIV positive people in AIDS policymaking
India may soon involve people suffering from HIV in government programmes to fight AIDS to make such policies more effective.
AIDS activists are hailing the step as a major social victory as the authorities recognise "the need for involving people for whom the policies are meant".
"We were asked to suggest a framework for involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in policy formulation. We submitted our proposal in December," KK Abraham, president of the Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS (INP+), said.
The proposal was submitted to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) that will discuss the matter with the federal health authorities.
"We expect a decision to be taken within two months," Abraham said.
INP+ and other voluntary organisations working in the health sector had been demanding the inclusion of people with HIV/AIDS into policymaking bodies.
"This is necessary to understand the needs of people with HIV/AIDS and make the programmes more effective," Abraham said.
"We have to understand that care and support and treatment are as important as anything else in stopping infection," he said.
People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) met in the city for a conference on developing and strengthening the leadership and capabilities of PLWHA.
"The programme is unique in that it looks to generate possibilities and capabilities of the PLWHA movement," Abraham said.
The one-year leadership programme that began in May last year resulted in several breakthrough initiatives such as the formation and registration of district-level networks of PLWHA and setting up of legal literacy workshops for HIV positive women by HIV positive women.
Besides, it also helped in close interaction between PLWHA groups and NACO.
Besides including PLWHA, NACO is also considering including "marginal groups" like sex workers in policy formulation so that specific health/AIDS issues affecting these groups can be addressed better.
The actual number of HIV/AIDS infected people is estimated to be about 4.5 million in India, the second highest after South Africa.
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