Friday, November 27, 2009

Celebration of World AIDS Day in Nepal

Condition of HIV/AIDS in Nepal:

Nepal is a developing country in Southern Asia. It is struggling with many challenges for the betterment of the nation. Among many other challenges, is the increasing HIV prevalence among the most at-risk population (MARPs). The first case of AIDS in Nepal was reported in 1988. According to the data of the National Center of AIDS and STD control, by May 2009, 13,885 cases of HIV were reported, among them, 2,384 persons living with AIDS. Out of 4,722 women that are infected, 3,384 are house wives. Because of the hidden nature of the problem, the actual size of the infected population is likely to be considerably larger. It is estimated by UNAIDS that 72,000 people in Nepal are living with HIV/AIDS.
The prevalence rate is increasing among Female sex workers (FSWs), injecting drug users (IDUs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and migrants. Effective prevention interventions need to be scaled up, especially among IDUs. Nepal's poverty, political instability, and gender inequality, combined with low levels of education and literacy, make the task challenging, as do the denial, stigma, and discrimination that surrounds HIV and AIDS. Female Sex Workers in Nepal have limited access to information about reproductive health and safe sex practices. Trafficking of Nepalese girls and women in Indian Sex Markets and returning with the disease stands as a major challenge to HIV control. Young people who have knowledge about HIV and other STDs, often do not have the means of protecting themselves which increases their vulnerability to HIV.

Nepal Red Cross working with HIV/AIDS

Nepal Red Cross Society have been running a HIV/AIDS prevention and Reproductive Health program since 1994, and working in cooperation with many different organizations including sister societies to educate people on how to stop the transmission of HIV. They encourage people to respond normally to people living with HIV/AIDS, to create awareness about HIV and make them understand how it is to be infected and how anyone can be a victim of it. The program is running in 54 out of the 75 districts in Nepal - among them 5 district currently supported by the Norwegian Red Cross.

The majority of identified people living with HIV/AIDS fall into the age of 14 to 29. So, NRCS disseminate knowledge and information by peer education, which has proven to be the most effective method.

Celebration of the World AIDS Day:

As a part of World AIDS Day, NRCS have been celebrating Condom day since 1995, every first Saturday after the Hindu’s greatest festival Dashain. This has proven a great success on how to disseminate information about the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

On World AIDS Day, different programs are organized by different organizations that are working in the field of HIV/AIDS. Among them, NRCS is one of those who celebrate it more effectively through its district chapters, sub chapters and junior/youth circles at a community level. They organize different activities like street drama, folk song competitions, interaction programs, providing counseling and testing services to those who want to know their status and many other activities. It can be a whole day program starting with a rally including all the different fields, students, volunteers walking in streets with banners and spreading leaflets. Later on there is a major discussion program where they discuss about existing conditions and also tries to include vulnerable people in order to make them more aware. Sometimes they light candles during night in the art of Red Cross or as a Symbol of AIDS. On that day, they use to talk more about HIV/AIDS in schools, colleges and community level.

Being a Red Cross Volunteer:

As a Red Cross volunteer we are also involved in different activities related to creating awareness among youths about HIV/AIDS and its transmission. We frequently organize speech competition (talking about transmission or Stigma related topics), seminars, public rallies, show street dramas (one of the most popular means of creating awareness) and also singing folk song based tunes so that it catches ears quickly. Last year on the World AIDS Day we visited different secondary schools in our community and told them about HIV/AIDS and its transmission as well as the methods to be safe from it. We also distributed the logo (red ribbon) among students and teachers. The main intension of distributing and using it was to show that there are still those \who only hate the disease AIDS but give love and care to the people living with HIV/AIDS.


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