Host of activities to mark Global AIDS action week

May 17th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) Demanding stronger response and accountability towards HIV/AIDS patients, activists, NGOs and the patients themselves will come together in 30 countries, including India, to observe the Global AIDS action week beginning Sunday. To be observed in Delhi besides 10 other states in India, the weeklong activities will begin with a candlelight memorial Sunday.

Pragya Vats of ActionAid India, an international developmental agency, said that the focus of the activities in India will be to urge the Indian government to act upon the draft of the HIV/AIDS bill immediately.

“The Global AIDS action week is an advocacy platform for the cause of HIV/AIDS patients world over. In India this year, our focus is to urge the government to act upon the (draft of) the HIV/AIDS bill because it will empower the HIV patients to lead a life free of discrimination,” Vats told IANS.

The draft of the HIV/AIDS bill is, at present, with the law ministry and is in the consultation phase.

“If the bill is approved, a patient will be able to demand his or her right to treatment and a fulfilled life. Despite efforts to sensitise people, large scale discrimination takes place openly against HIV patients,” she added.

Vats said that over 200 people, most of them patients, NGOs and civil society members, will take part in the “AIDS Walk for Rights” May 21 in Delhi, when they march from Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital to the health ministry office.

They will also write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.

In Gujarat, postcards will be sent to the central Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss urging him to push for the bill.

Seminars, workshops, rallies and candlelight vigils in the other states - Nagaland, Manipur, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu - will be held during the course of the week.

According to statistics, over 6,000 people die of AIDS in the world everyday. In India the estimated number of HIV/AIDS patients is 2.5 million.

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