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HIV/AIDS Still one of the Biggest Issues in Manipur

Imphal: Amidst all the heightening outcries against the various human rights violations and atrocities in the state committed by both state and non–state actors, HIV/AIDS still remains, perhaps, as one of the biggest issues of the state with the stigmas, discriminations surrounding it besides its heavy impact on women and children of the state. And the various seminars and consultations held in the recent past have reportedly called for an end to such discriminations and stigmas.

During one such seminar of the religious leaders on HIV/AIDS organised by the Don Bosco Mangaal, Don Bosco Chingmeirong in collaboration with the Christian Relief Services (CRS), Guwahati at the Manipur Press Club in Imphal on January 10, the seminar reportedly called for an end to discrimination and the stigma against those infected with the disease. Addressing the seminar, Rev. Fr. Nebu Mathew, administrator of Don Bosco Chingmeirong, as per the reports, asserted that HIV/AIDS was a threat to human dignity where stigma and discrimination prevail.

Further highlighting the sufferings of the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), Fr. Nebu Mathew stated that they were rejected by many in the society thus giving them a feeling of guilt and their consequent denial to the truth even at the risk of spreading the disease. Fr. Nebu also observed the wives and children of those with the illness were suddenly left to fend for themselves and had to face abandonment, abuse and exploitation, stated the reports.

During the seminar, Sr. Radharani, a staff nurse of the Jawahar Lal Nehru (JN) hospital, Porompat in Imphal East also held that PLWHA were stigmatised or ostracised throughout the world and called for an end to such discriminations. She also held that such people should be encouraged to overcome the disease. The staff nurse also asserted that people close to those affected by the disease also had to face discriminations and stigma, stated the reports.

Besides this, a one day seminar on “HIV/AIDS, human rights and social psychology in the conflict situation of Manipur” was also reportedly held at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal in relation with the peace march of the Manipur Diaspora. The seminar, as per various reports, called for an end to discrimination against those affected with the disease. During the seminar, Ph. Parijat, state minister of health reportedly asserted that HIV/AIDS was more dangerous than the historical event of the ‘Seven years of devastation&rsquol; of Manipur of the 19th century and called for an end to any discrimination of the disease.

Meanwhile, addressing the 1st Annual Children’s Meet for children in Imphal West, MLA Radhabinod Koijam stated that the number of people killed by the disease was more than the number killed in the conflict situation in the state and added that drug users easily spread the disease. Interestingly, as per reports, the occasion was organised for the children by those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS on January 12 at Tharon Baptist Church, Tharon village in Thangmeiband, Imphal West.

Also addressing the occasion, L Nandakumar Singh, MLA from the Uripok constituency reminded that there was no medicine for the disease and suggest that it was time to teach children about protection from HIV/AIDS due to the high spread amongst innocent children.

Moreover, a two day consultation programme on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and children held on January 15–16 in Imphal discussed on the various issues surrounding the disease especially its spread and the stigma and discrimination associated with it.

Organised by the National Commission for Women (NCW), New Delhi in collaboration with the Manipur State Commission for Women (MSCW), the first day of the consultation programme held at the State Guest House, Sanjenthong in Imphal reportedly highlighted the vulnerability of women and children towards the disease. The programme also called for a sensitisation and generation of mass awareness in order to prevent HIV infection among women and children. Addressing the programme, Dr. Jamini, chairperson of MSCW asserted that women and children were the most vulnerable to the disease due to the social and economic condition of the state. Ms. Wabsuk Syiem, member of NCW, New Delhi during the programme also, according to the reports, informed that about 38 percent of all Indians living with HIV currently were women. She further asserted that infection in women and girls were fuelled by gender–based violence and sexual exploitation such as rape, abuse of young women and girls, especially in times of emergency and conflicts.

The second day of the consultation held at the office of the MSCW in Lamphelpat, Imphal West, reportedly called for an end to any sort of stigma and discrimination against those PLWHA. During the programme many of those living with the disease also highlighted their problems and difficulties.

According to the reports, a lady living with HIV, expressing fears on stigma and discrimination, stated that they were scare to disclose their HIV status due to their fear for being associated with stigmas and discriminations. This could even be carried on to their children, asserted the lady adding that widows of AIDS death cases were no better as they were often ill–treated at their husband’s home thus making it difficult for them to stay.With such issues, the two day consultation programme reportedly put many recommendations to the state government, MSCW, Manipur AIDS Control Society (MACS) and various other departments of the state. The consultation also reportedly called for a mass movement and strategy for an end to such stigma and discrimination.

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Source: http://www.morungexpress.com

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