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My organisation, Action India, provides care to positive people: Nafisa Ali

Activist and actress Nafisa Ali has been known for her AIDS activism for a while now. Her organisation Action India is dedicated to AIDS work in India. On December 17, 2002, Ashraya, her care home for HIV positive people came into being. In a chat she spoke on issues of stigma, discrimination, care and access to treatment on Dec 3.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2004 13:18 IST
PTI

Rohit: Don't you think funds should be diverted from NACO to give compensation to AIDS victims?
Nafisa Ali: Technically NACO is a representative of the government, who works in the field of HIV/AIDS under the central government. I agree that funds should be given for antiretroviral (ARV) treatment of HIV+ people. What concerns me right now are statements made by Health Minister Sushma Swaraj has to say. She says the medicines will be available only through government hospitals. This will compromise both the patients and the NGO sector who work in the field of care. NACO should, on principle, also become partners with all organizations working in the field of care (which have been registered, and whose track record is good).

Mangatram: Why are the number of AIDS cases so high even after so much has being spent on AIDS?
Nafisa Ali: Because the reality is, even though 85 per cent goes in the awareness programme, such campaigns in the country are failing. The fact this is a young person's problem. The target age group is 15-39 years, with all new infections being under the age of 24. This being mainly a sexually transmitted disease. The reality of our country is very frightening. Unless the young people themselves come forward with a commitment of being faithful or to protect themselves with a use of a condom (if they are in multi-sexual relationships) things will only get worst.

Dr. Nitish Dogra: Considering that the Global AIDS Vaccine Initiative, currently underway in India and other countries, will ultimately provide the only tangible solution to the AIDS pandemic, why are you and several other prominent AIDS activists instilling fear, creating panic and stalling implementation of this international priority?
Nafisa Ali: Please don't include me in the three phrases that you have used, because all those I work with are HIV positive people who came to Action India, the NGO I run. There are no closed-door panic buttons here, but a total mindset change is what they learn about. And everywhere I go, I speak on the importance of giving those infected and affected with HIV, the understanding and dignity of life through commitment and support.

laughingbuddha: Health Minister Sushma Swaraj recently mentioned that care would be an area of consideration. Do you think this will happen?
Nafisa Ali: Sushma Swaraj has made a huge commitment in the field of HIV/AIDS. I hope that instead of taking two years, if it happens in a six months' time frame it would be good. Because there are a lot of people dying, which troubles me deeply.

shobha: What activities is Action India currently involved in?
Nafisa Ali: We are providing care to the people, who have positive, which includes treatment for opportunistic infections, counselling, awareness with the young people (debates in colleges, puppet shows, street plays - with these means we are reaching to a large number of people). We are doing a combination of prevention and care. It must be a multipronged effort that should have everything. There are other things that we do such as relief work during Gujarat Earthquake, Orissa Cyclone and in riot-affected areas. But there is so much more that we can do together and needs to be done in the country. And I personally also work with many other NGOs.

goodbye: Why do all Miss World/Universe say that they want to work for AIDS and never do it?
Nafisa Ali: Sad... why are you telling me? I am the living example. Perhaps you need to give them a chance to go gray like me.

First Published: Dec 02, 2003 16:23 IST