World Aids Day: Collective effort required to reverse HIV epidemic
Dimapur/Mokokchung, Dec. 1(EMN): Nagaland has the second highest adult HIV prevalence in India with 1.45% but only 16% of the youth have comprehensive knowledge of HIV and Aids, and 35% of sexually active youth are engaged in high-risk sexual behaviour (NFHS-IV).
This was informed by Abou Mere, Director of Kripa Foundation Kohima, while speaking with Eastern Mirror
“The HIV sentinel surveillance 2019 among pregnant women shows that adult HIV prevalence is seven times that of the national average and HIV incidence is 16 times that of national average, which is not only complex but is multifaceted”, he said.
“Nagaland requires an urgent action with political leadership to accelerate and scale up the response against HIV and other health issues,” he said.
He stated that the elected legislators and political leaders should play a crucial role in taking forward HIV and other health aspects “ensuring the welfare of our citizens and also take measures for realisation of the right to health for its citizens fulfilling state obligation to right to life”.
He further stated that the state needs to recognise the importance and principle of greater involvement of people living with HIV and Aids (Gipa), meaningful involvement of people who use drugs (MIPUD), and meaningfully engage the community and civil societies in planning, implementation, and provide supportive environment to enhance the quality and effectiveness of HIV and Aids response, which are critical to halt and reverse the epidemic.
Mere also shared how the Covid-19 pandemic has brought much confusion among the people living with HIV/Aids (PLHIV) and other vulnerable groups because they were not prepared for the situation and also the Nagaland State Aids Control Society (Nsacs) or Health department has not provided a clear cut advisory.
“And during the initial period of lockdown, as districts hospitals were converted to Covid hospital, routine test could not be done as they were unable to go to the hospitals, but some issues have been resolved,” he said.
Speaking about the ‘third line’ therapy, he also said that it is not directly under the control of Nsacs ‘because it has to come via Manipur, and due to the inter-state lockdown at the initial period we had problems for few clients.’
He further said that the state needs to have an indigenous way of prevention and ‘this has to come from everybody and collectively work together or this epidemic will become a pandemic”.
Ted (name changed), a PLHIV, speaking to this newspaper shared that indirectly or directly the community is still facing stigmatisation or discrimination from the society but many of them are not willing to open up their stories even if they experience it because “they have high self-stigma”.
He shared that the biggest issue is in regard to the third-line as they are not getting from Nagaland but have to go to Imphal.
“Because of the pandemic they are bringing through Nsacs, but before that we personally have to go and collect ourselves,” he said, citing that many difficulties like transportation and language barriers.
Speaking about viral load testing, he suggested that it would be helpful if there was a testing machine in Nagaland as they are presently sending their blood samples to Mumbai.
He further urged the community to feel free to access the facilities available in the respective districts instead of going to other districts. “Earlier, stigmatisation and discrimination is very high and it still exists but now many people take it just like any other normal diseases,” he said.
“It is we who are infected, so it is our duty to take care of our health,” he added.
World Aids Day observed across Nagaland
Mokokchung: A motorcycle rally to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS was organised in commemoration of World Aids Day on the theme “Global Solidarity, Share Responsibility” in Mokokchung town on December 1.
Members of Hill’s Pirate Mokokchung participated in the rally, which was officially flagged off by Dr. Kibangkumba, Deputy CMO, Mokokchung.
Dr. Kibangkumba said that Nagaland has the second highest HIV prevalence in the country, and this can be only slashed down through mass awareness programmes. He further urged the bikers to reach out to large audiences and sensitise about HIV.Officials from Network of Mokokchung District People Living with HIV and Aids (NMP+) also disclosed that they are more than 1800 individuals enrolled in NMP and approximately 50 percent of the members are in the age group of 18-35 years.
They also informed that HIV positive cases in the district are increasing at approximately 120 persons a year; out of which 60 percent are women. They further disclosed that most of the positive cases are detected among pregnant mothers.
Nukshi, an official from NSACS also disclosed that the prevailing reasons for the ever-increasing HIV transmission cases in the state is because of ‘sexual route among the youths.’
Meanwhile, three PLHAs were given one-time financial grand for treatment and three children Living with HIV/Aids were given one-time education aid by NSACS during the event.
Winners of the NSACS district level online quiz competition on HIV/Aids through Youth App held on November 23 were also declared during the observance of the day.
The first position was won by Yangtsapi Sangtam of Fazl Ali College (FAC) while the second and third positions went to Yashiyala Imchen of Mokokchung College of Teachers Education and Lanubenla Walling of Jubilee Memorial College respectively. The three consolation prizes went to Hito Awomi and Imlikokla both from FAC and Nourhevinuo of Mokokchung College of Teachers Education.
The programme was jointly organised by TINGOs, NMP+, MDLSA, DAPCU and sponsored by NSACS.
Zunheboto: In a related programme, Zunheboto DAPCU under the establishment of the chief medical officer (CMO), Zunheboto, observed the World Aids Day 2020 in the conference hall of the District Hospital on December 1.
An update from the CMO’s office, Zunheboto, stated that Dr. K Akaho Sema, CMO Zunheboto and guest speaker, has thanked the DAPCU, advocate Tovi, Red Ribbon Club (RRC) and also congratulated all the participants of the quiz competition organised by Nsacs.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Akaho stated that the day is observed to spread awareness about HIV/Aids and remember those who have lost their lives to HIV/Aids. He expressed his concern about the alarming increase in which Nagaland is ranked among one of the highest prevalence states at 1.5 %.
While appealing to the gathering not to stigmatise and discriminate those affected with HIV/Aids, the CMO stated that it should not only be the responsibility of the Health department alone but every section of people should shoulder the responsibility according to their ability.
He further called upon the health workers, RRC members, and the public leaders to come together and fighting HIV/AIDS with collective effort.
A quiz competition was also conducted on the occasion and certificate were handed over to the winners. Grant-in-aid to CLHIV beneficiaries were also given during the programme.
Jubit K, district ICTC supervisor, chaired the programme, while Hokishe Chophy, DPO, DAPCU, delivered the welcome address and also shared about the significance of the day.
Phek: Phek District Aids Program Control Unit (DAPCU) observed World Aids Day at Town Council Hall, Phek sponsored by Nagaland State Aids Control Society. Speaking at the program, the guest speaker Wethso Lasushe, EAC Phek said that as a responsible individuals, “we can achieve the goal to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 if only we contribute our solidarity and share our responsibility towards the people living with HIV/Aids and stand united.”
He also stated that the observation of World Aids Day every year can be meaningful if the people not stigmatise and discriminate HIV patients. During the programme, CMO Dr. Vibeituonuo Mepfuo gave away grant-in aid to three children living with HIV for educational support for one academic year amounting to INR 12000 each, which was sponsored by Nsacs
A district level Nsacs online quiz competition result of various categories of winners was also declared by DPO, DAPCU
Longleng: The District Health Society Longleng commemorated World Aids Day under the theme, at the Conference hall, CMO office. The programme was initiated by District AIDS Control Society Longleng.
According to an update, chief medical officer, Dr. Obangjungla shared that the day is commemorated every year by different organisations and individuals mainly to bring awareness, to educate people, and to fight HIV stigma and discrimination of HIV patients. The CMO also said that the every year on Dec. 1, the entire world remembers the millions of people who have lost their lives because of HIV and Aids. It further stated that she said that this year’s theme, ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility’ reminds every individual and community organisation to work in solidarity and to be resilient in overcoming obstacles and challenges and to constantly adopt one’s approaches for life saving services.
Dr. Khyothungo Yanthan, MO (OST) District Hospital, shared that educated people have to empower communities and educate them so that people living with HIV are not stigmatised and discriminated. He said that it is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from Aids related illness.
NSACS declares short film competition results
Nagaland State Aids Control Society (NSACS) has declared the results of the short film competition on the occasion of World Aids Day on December 1.
An update stated that “Marque (Branded)” – a short film on the themes “Stigma and discrimination” and “Importance of HIV testing” was adjudged the winner. Its creator Maipangnok Ao from Hi-Tech Institute of IT and Multimedia, Dimapur, would receive a cash amount of INR 50,000.
It added that Patkai Christian College (Autonomous), Dimapur, won two prizes for securing the second prize and another consolation prize. Sunil Nayak’s “Out of the shadows of HIV/Aids Anna’s story” on the theme “Stigma and discrimination” was adjudged second. He would also receive a cash amount of INR 30,000.
Meanwhile, Bendangtoshi Longkumer from Model Christian College, Kohima, won the third prize for his film “#Knowledge is bliss.” Longkumer’s film combined the themes of “Stigma and discrimination,” “Condom and promotion,” “ART,” and “HIV & youth.” He would receive a cash of INR 20,000
The report also stated that Randanbeni Patton won a second prize for Patkai after being adjudged one of the four consolation prize winners. Her film titled “The mistake” was centred on the theme “Condom promotion”.
The other consolation prize winners are Thangthianven from St. Joseph’s College, Jakhama; Alemwati Jamir from Immanuel College, Dimapur; and Sentiyanger Longkumer from Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung.
The jury panel of the competition were Alexander Leo Pou, film facilitation officer (eastern region) of the National Film Development Corporation, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; Dr. Jyotika Cheema, Naco consultant (IEC and Main streaming) New Delhi; and Metevinuo Sakhrie, Nsacs joint director (IEC), Kohima.
The report further stated that 23 eligible entries were received for the competition which was organised by Nsacs under the aegis of National Aids Control Organisation (NACO). NSACS had called for entries from students of colleges and universities in Nagaland on October 2, 2020.