Barbers attend AIDS sensitization prog towards normalization of condoms

NAHARLAGUN, 3 Mar: A sensitization programme, ‘Cut and Talk on HIV/AIDS’, for barbers/ hairdressers was organized by the Arunachal Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) at a city hotel here on 2 March as part of the APSACS’ campaign to normalize the use of condoms.

APSACS Assistant Director (Youth Affairs) Koj Tara, informed that the ‘Cut and Talk on HIV/AIDS’ is a condom promotion campaign, wherein barbers/ hairdressers would be involved in creating awareness on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and condom promotion.

Free condom pick-up boxes and IEC material on HIV/AIDS will also be made available at strategic locations and serviced by the salon.

He informed that a man who visits a salon spends at least 30 to 45 minutes shaving and hairdressing. During that time, a barber will talk on HIV/ AIDS, STIs and offer a packet of condoms from the pick-up box to the customer.

The campaign aims to protect all those at the risk of contracting HIV, STI as well as against unwanted pregnancies.

The target population for this campaign is the youth as well as men who are in their prime reproductive age and those who visit salons. The condom distribution and stock update shall be monitored by the APSACS at the end of every month.

Tara further explained that the condoms will be promoted as a method for dual protection (providing protection against HIV and other STIs, as well as against unwanted pregnancies) through strategic communication approaches towards normalization of condoms.

The normalization of condoms would include the concepts that increase the perceptions of positive social support, social norms, self-efficacy in taking, carrying and using condoms without embarrassment.

APSACS Deputy Director (BSD) Dr A Borang informed that the first case of HIV in India was diagnosed in Chennai in a female sex worker in 1986. In Arunachal Pradesh, the first HIV case was detected in the year 1998.

He appealed to all the participants to share the responsibilities of the government in creating awareness on issues like HIV/ AIDS.

He also thanked the Bazaar Welfare Committee, Naharlagun for its involvement in mobilizing barbers to participate in the programme.

APSACS Project Director Dr Riken Rina urged participants to be equipped with correct and complete knowledge about HIV/ AIDS and pass it to their customers because “knowledge is the only prevention of HIV/AIDS.”

“HIV/ AIDS is no longer only an issue of the health department; society also has to come forward and share the responsibility in preventing HIV/AIDS in the state,” Dr Rina said.

He also highlighted the menace of drug and substance abuse in the state and asked barbers to talk on the ill effects of drug and substance abuse along with HIV/AIDS during their deliberations with customers.

While giving inputs on Covid-19, he urged all the barbers to put on masks and use sanitizers regularly to prevent infection.

Naharlagun Bazaar Welfare Committee chairman Kipa Nai appreciated APSACS for coming up with the innovative idea by involving barbers in creating awareness on HIV/AIDS. He informed that all sections of the society visit salons irrespective of rich or poor status and barbers can get ample opportunities to talk and discuss HIV/ AIDS while performing their job.

He also emphasized maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the market areas.

During the technical session, resource person, APSACS Deputy Director (IEC) Tashor Pali explained about various modes of transmission of HIV/ AIDS and its relative risk and contributions.

He informed that the age group of 20 to 49 years is the most vulnerable to HIV infection.

He also clarified the myths and misconceptions attached to HIV/ AIDS.

Speaking on services provided by the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in the state, he emphasized getting tested and learning one’s HIV status at the integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTC).

He also informed about national toll-free helpline number-1097 for any further queries on HIV/ AIDS.

Deliberating on interpersonal communication, he explained how barbers can create awareness and explain about HIV/AIDS by using their communication skills with customers.

Project Manager of MSM Targeted Intervention Project from Turbu Daleh MPCS, Nyage Nyodu explained the various condom promotion strategies under NACP.

He also demonstrated the correct use of condoms and also highlighted the importance of consistence use of condoms in the prevention of HIV infection, STI and unwanted pregnancies.

Altogether, 120 barbers/ hairdressers from 60 salons/ shops from Naharlagun Township participated in the programme.