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AIDS Healthcare Foundation to implement community testing program in the country this World AIDS Day, 2016

 India 1 December 2016: World AIDS Day is held on 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and show their support for people living with HIV. The aim of the World AIDS Day Observance is to bring people’s attention to the worldwide challenges and consequences of the epidemic in order to create change.

AHF (AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION) – INDIA CARES is partnering with various NGOs in implementing Community Based Rapid HIV/AIDS Testing Program to identify new HIV positives among key populations and support them to be linked with ART centers enabling them to access services.
Since its inception in 1987, AHF has been a provider of HIV prevention services, testing, and healthcare for patients living with HIV. The mission of Around the Globe in a Day, Keep the Promise and AHF’s other efforts all over the world is to accelerate the fight against HIV / AIDS.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), recently announced their Around the Globe in a Day initiative, a series of events across the world to commemorate World AIDS Day and continue to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. The activities will include free concerts in Cambodia, Mexico City and the United States as well as free awareness and testing events throughout the U.S., Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Asia – including INDIA.

In India -on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2016, many events are being organized including HIV/AIDS awareness events in different parts of the country with theme based events such as a rally with school/College students, street plays in various locations with the high risk population, exhibition and quiz competition with the youth to create awareness and clarify the prevailing myths around HIV/AIDS.

“People who are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection often do not have access to health care, information on HIV prevention, including on safer sex and how to use female and male condoms, HIV counseling and testing and access to HIV care. The CBT model -Community-based HIV counseling and rapid testing model which gives out test results in 20 minutes - is an effective mechanism to facilitate access to the most-at-risk populations and provide friendly support and services at the Community level. The model needs to be adapted and implemented by the National and Local governments, local, regional and international organizations that support HIV/AIDS programs targeting the most-at-risk populations” – said Dr. V Sam Prasad, Country Program Director, AHF – AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION – India Cares, New Delhi.

Even when people can access HIV counseling and testing, they may avoid it because they fear stigma and discrimination from their local communities and families, and the existing homophobia, rejection from society, at times even violence, or financial repercussions and fear of being named outcasts and being isolated – making it difficult for HIV interventions to progress– remarked Prince Manavendra Singh Gohil, the only openly Gay activist Prince from the Royal family of Rajpipla, Gujrat and the Brand Ambassador for AHF India Cares.

Natthu Singh, Programme Manager, Humana People to People says that- In India, HIV is mainly concentrated among high risk population groups who are more likely to contract HIV than non-high risk groups. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.  The primary high risk groups in India are intravenous drug users (IDUs), men who have sex with men (MSM) and Female Sex Workers(FSWs).

Awdesh Yadav – Chief Functionary of SPID (Society for Participatory Integrated Development) - NGO, based in Uttam Nagar, New Delhi and partnering in the WAD 2016 activities reiterated on the role of local NGOs in complementing the Government’s efforts in tackling the challenges of the HIV programs through identifying the unreached HIV population at the local communities. “NGOs have been able to identify and link many new HIV positives to Care and treatment programs of the government through the Community based testing approach” – he added.
Getting treatment for high risk groups is even more difficult due to the stigma prevalent in our society. If we are to contain the spread of HIV, then we must figure out a way to help people from these groups find proper rehabilitation and ensure social protection schemes for them. Global events such as WAD support to fight against the stigma and discrimination of HIV positive individuals and provide awareness for necessary behavior change in the society at large – remarked Dr. Divya Mithel, Treating Physician at AHF Jyothis Community Care center at Panvel, Navi Mumbai.

Pop Singh, HPPI Program Manager, New Delhi–announced that the event in Delhi will begin from 10 A.M. at Azadpur Mandi. Guests who shall participate are Shri Satish Kumar Gupta Deputy Secretary (Agriculture Produce Marketing committee (MNI) Azadpur   Govt. of N.C.T Of Delhi. Dr. Bashisht (DTO) BJRB Chest Clinic Jahangirpuri. Ajit Yadav and Punjabi Popular Singer Kumar Bittu alias KB.
Mr. Rajesh Rishi, MLA from Janakpuri has kindly consented to flag off the HIV/AIDS awareness rally and Mr. Mahendra Yadav, MLA Vikaspuri will offer felicitations and distribute prizes for the poster competition and winners of the cultural competitions.

The events will also witness the participation from the LGBTQI communities, local leaders, community volunteers, local health service providers, ICTC counselors and TB Dot Centre in making the program a success.
AHF has made arrangements for FREE HIV testing using Rapid Test kits as part of the WAD program 2016 and will link new positives – if any,  to the existing HIV services for treatment and consistently follow up to ensure treatment adherence.