Sunday, June 23, 2024

Medical, media community two pillars for tackling HIV/AIDS, says expert


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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: To create awareness among media persons on reportage of HIV& AIDS, president of the Aids Society of India Dr. IS Gilada, on Friday demonstrated how media support and correct reportage is absolutely necessary in containing HIV/AIDS.

Dr Gilada was addressing media persons, doctors and other interested participants at a workshop organised by the Meghalaya AIDS Control Society here.

Dr Gilada shared his travails when he started work among HIV + people and AIDS patients.

“The ostracism and stigmatisation is greater among the medical fraternity who should know better how the disease afflicts a person and how it is spread,” Dr Gilada said.

“Two important pillars for tackling HIV/AIDS are the medical community and the media. If both are sufficiently sensitised the task is made easier,” Dr Gilada remarked adding that currently fifty per cent of the HIV cases are seen in young adults, which is a dangerous trend.

Dr Gilada explained that HIV affects a person psychologically, medically and economically; hence a multi-pronged strategy is called for.

“HIV spreads mostly through ignorance. It is important to adopt multiple strategies to inform and educate people about HIV which is easily transmitted but not curable. There is also a strong link between alcohol, sex and HIV,” Dr Gilada added.

Dr Gilada who also heads the Mumbai based Peoples’ Health Organisation (PHO), a fully comprehensive HIV testing and care clinic, said there is need to change the entire vocabulary of HIV/AIDS.

Dr Gilada was responding to a question on whether it is correct to refer to HIV patients as ‘victims’.

“Many may be affected by the HIV virus but few end up with full blown AIDS hence it is not correct to speak of HIV/AIDS in the same breath,” he informed.

To a question on whether the body of a person who dies of AIDS needs to be fully covered with polythene, Dr Gilada allayed all fears saying that as soon as the blood dries the virus dies.

He also rued the stigma attached to HIV saying that while sex within marriage is considered sacrosanct, sex outside it is seen as ‘bad’ hence the stigma linked to HIV.

Dr Gilada, who specialises in sexually transmitted diseases (STD), started India’s first AIDS Clinic in Mumbai. He calls himself an HIV friendly specialist. His message is loud and clear – “Stigma doesn’t just hurt; it kills. So don’t lead the pack if you don’t know where you are going.”

Dr Gilada said one of the reasons for spread of HIV AIDS is early onset of puberty and delayed marriages which often results in sex with multiple partners before marriage.

“HIV AIDS is a man-made, Government neglected and socially sponsored calamity. But there are benefits that have come as a result of AIDS awareness. Since HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) are conjoined twins and those suffering from AIDS finally end up getting TB, the disease is now getting more attention,” he said.

Speaking about the manner in which youth can be sensitised about HIV and AIDS, Dr Gilada said youth can be convinced through dialogue and reasoning, not through lectures.

The session was attended by journalists and students from different colleges and institutes and they were also seen posing many related questions to the expert.

It may be mentioned that the UNAIDS in its report has mentioned that HIV incidence in India has come down by fifty per cent in the last decade.

The convention assumes significance in view of the fact that Meghalaya is vulnerable to HIV since there are huge numbers of migrant and floating population. As per the available statistics, in the State, altogether 79,197 underwent HIV testing at Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) out of which 1123 have been tested positive from 2002 till this year.


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