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World Aids Day: NGOs working for awareness, prevention of Aids await funds

NGOs working on creating awareness and prevention of Aids are fearing that the motivation of people working with them will diminish if the release of funds by MSACS is irregular.

pune Updated: Dec 01, 2017 14:57 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
world aids day,msacs,aids
The city needs more awareness on AIDS.(Praful Gangurde)

NGOs working for awareness and prevention of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) have been awaiting funds from the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) from December 2016 to March 2017.

With funds for these four months yet to be released by MSACS, NGOs working on creating awareness and prevention of Aids are fearing that the motivation of people working with them will diminish if the release of funds by MSACS is irregular.

When contacted, Dr Lokesh Gabhane, joint director of Maharashtra State Aids Control Society said, “We are aware that funds, for four months between December and March, are yet to be provided to the NGOs. With limited funds being allocated to MSACS in the past three to four years, NGOs couldn't be given funds for that period. But, barring these four months, the problem of lack of funds has never arisen. The funds from April 2017 onwards have already been released.”

Dr Gabhane assured that MSACS is currently in talks with the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and soon the funds for these four months too would be released for the NGOs.

Officials from MSACS told Hindustan Times that in 2017-18 MSACS will provide funds for 174 targeted intervention projects across the state. According to officials from MSACS, the total funds to be released for the same would be over Rs.27.80 crore.

Vijay Nair, chairman of Udaan, which focuses on issues of sexual health within the homosexual and transgender communities particularly with regard to the prevention of HIV/Aids said, “Presently, we are receiving funds from MSACS, but those from December 2016 to March 2017 are still pending. If there are gaps in reception of funds, the motivation of people working with NGOS starts diminishing which should not happen. There is a lot of effort and cost involved in reaching towards those affected and hence, if the funds are received regularly if helps a lot.”

Stigma, discrimination continues to haunt those affected with AIDS

Stigma and discrimination continues to affect and isolate those suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids). NGOs working towards awareness and prevention of Aids have observed that women who are tested positive for HIV post marriage, feel completely destroyed. Their life comes crushing down. They are distraught when they know that they have contracted Aids from their husband.

Even with such cases, the stigma associated with Aids is still prevalent in the Indian society. In a city like Pune, people looking for a match are still not vocal to ask for HIV test before marriage. It has also been observed that none of the matrimonial sites nor the family set up is inspiring these young people to take up HIV tests before marriage.

Dr V Sam Prasad, country programme director, Aids Healthcare Foundation said, “Discrimination against people affected with Aids is very much prevalent in our society. Aids is seen as an immoral act and there is a stigma associated with Aids patients. This isolates those suffering from it. To change this picture, there is a need to talk more about the subject so that the discomfort associated with it goes away with time.”

Though the state government is actively considering making HIV test mandatory before marriage, not much has been achieved on this front.

Gauri Patil, who is seeking a match on different matrimonial websites, said, “While looking for a partner on matrimonial sites where the families don’t know each other, it becomes important that there is emphasis on getting an HIV test done. But there is never any talk on it. Even though everyone understands the importance of such tests, these questions are never asked.”

Working professional Amit Gaikwad too shared similar views. He said, “Even the matrimonial sites do not have a mandatory column for HIV tests which can be included.”

On some of the matrimonial websites, there is a column asking for medical history of applicants. The local matrimonial platforms, through their workshops make people aware about these tests, but leave it optional on the candidates.

Tanmay Kanitkar, who runs Anuroop Wiwah Sanstha in Pune, which has more than 30,000 registered candidates, said, “No one has ever come to me stating he or she wants to marry the person only after getting HIV tests. We stress the point of doing such tests in our workshops, but no one makes it a point to undergo it. Candidates are not vocal about such tests.”

First Published: Dec 01, 2017 14:55 IST