NAMSAI, 20 Dec: The Red Ribbon Club of the NSS unit of the Arunachal University of Studies (AUS) organised an HIV/AIDS awareness programme at the university here on Tuesday, in collaboration with the AUS’ social work department, its IQAC, and the Namsai unit of the Arunachal Pradesh State AIDS Control Society.
Addressing the participants, District TB Officer Dr P Tala said that “it is very important to remove the misleading concepts about HIV infection prevailing in the mind of the common people,” and lamented that the society starts abandoning a person if the person is diagnosed as HIV positive.
“It is the fear of social discrimination that prevents a good number of people from coming for HIV tests available in hospitals, health centres and diagnostic laboratories,” he said.
“The key to end discrimination is to increase awareness among the people and thus change the mindset of the society. The Red Ribbon Club is working with this motto to preach social awareness upto the grassroots level,” he added.
Dr Tala further informed that Namsai district has 112 HIV positive patients “since February till date.”
Referring to the difference between AIDS and HIV, Dr Tala said that “HIV is the virus that causes infection and damages the immune system, but AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection and becomes the fatal reason of death.”
He spoke also about the causes of HIV infection, including sex without condom, sharing syringes, contaminated blood transfusions and organ transplants, “besides from HIV infected mother to the newborn baby.”
Dr Tala said also that HIV doesn’t spread through kissing, sharing food, hugging, insect bites, sharing toilet seats, bathing, etc, and mentioned some of the symptoms of HIV infection, such as swelling, headache, skin rashes, dry cough, pneumonia, muscle pain, etc.
He further informed that HIV testing facility is available at the district hospital here and at the CHCs in Chongkham, Mahadevpur and Lathao.
“In Namsai, the HIV is getting spread through injecting drug substances, sex workers, migrants, and also pregnant mothers,” he informed.
SG SMO Dr C Thamoung spoke about “the notorious role of different types of drugs and alcohol in society,” and expressed concern over the growing drug addiction among the youths.
He made a presentation showing the cycle of addiction. “Alcohol consumption also ultimately leads to liver damage and liver cancer,” Dr Thamoung said.
He further explained how smoking and tobacco consumption leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, and impotency.
AUS vice chancellor Prof B Mohan Kumar in his speech appealed for “removal of fallacies about HIV/AIDS from human mindset,” adding that “only awareness can bring equity in society.”