Pune: An HIV exhibition and a performance by Hindi rock band Agnee will mark the conclusion of the HIV Testing Week at the B J medical grounds on December 6. “The expo will feature an interactive HIV awareness section as well as will showcase NGOs and other organisations working in the field of HIV in the city. The expo is open to all,” said Hans Billimoria, campaign coordinator, Wake Up Pune.
Commenting on the campaign, Jenny McCann, Indian project coordinator, said, “Our joint commitment to the young people this year also recognises that young people are the key and central to the response, recognising that youngsters are taking the lead. We often say youngsters are the leaders of the future, but they are showing their leadership qualities even today.”
Speaking about the campaign, Billimoria said, “Wake Up Pune is about Pune. It is about society coming together to address issues around HIV and AIDS. We need to wipe out the stigma and discrimination associated with the virus and offer real care and support to people living with HIV.”
Highlighting the importance of the corporate world engaging in HIV response, Ashish Patharkar, operating committee member of Satyam Foundation, said, “We need to educate, protect and support our IT professionals. We need to ensure that people living with HIV are not discriminated against in the work place.”
Speaking about sex workers, Nandita Ambike, coordinator, Saheli, a non–profit organisation run by and for sex workers, said, “A lot of efforts in the city are focused on sex workers and focused on blaming them for the spread of the virus, where in fact, sex workers are probably the most educated about safe sex. In reality, we need to educate the customers of sex workers about HIV.”