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India Ropes in SHGs to Help Women Fight HIV

The NACO initiative aims to disseminate information about the disease and empower women so that they are less vulnerable to HIV and AIDS
New Delhi: As HIV infections among India’s rural women show an increasing trend, the government is reaching out to them to reduce their vulnerability to AIDS, targeting 40 districts identified across nine states in the country.

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in the country has also roped in women self help groups (SHGs), which will be given special training to disseminate information.

“There is an increasing prevalence of HIV among women, especially rural women. This is a cause of concern,” NACO Director General K Sujatha Rao said adding that women in rural areas are more vulnerable in the country.

“We would like to create awareness among them. But all these are sensitive issues. Women could face stigma and so it has to be sensitively handled,” Rao, who is also the Secretary in the country’s health ministry stated.

She said women in India account for around 10 lakh of 25 lakh estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Giving further details about the role of the SHGs in tackling the challenge Rao informed that in the first phase of the plan, the training programme would cover SHG workers in 40 districts in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana.

“The districts have been identified as those where HIV infection among rural women is high,” she said adding that most of these SHGs are already working in villages as they are involved in micro-credit schemes.

“These self help groups have better access to women. In such situations, women need support and they will find it easy to cope with their problem with the support of these SHGs,” Rao said.

NACO has earmarked an estimated Rs 1.8 crore for the project, a pilot for which was launched in July with the training of master trainers in the respective states.

According to NACO Joint Director Mayank Aggarwal, the master trainers will be involved in ‘Train the trainer’ programme till the district level, who will in turn teach SHG workers on how to create awareness among the women, many of whom may not be educated or know about the deadly consequences of the disease.

“We will be training as many as 80,000 people,” he said.

Aggarwal further stated that the main objective of the programme is to disseminate information and empower women so that they are less vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.

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Source: iGovernment

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