Indian Prime Minister, Media Executives To Launch HIV/AIDS Education Initiative Aimed at Country’s Youth
Indian media executives on Thursday announced that they will launch a "massive" public education campaign to raise awareness about the country's growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Sharma, AP/Boston Globe, 1/6). The media executives were joined by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the country's first-ever Media Leaders Summit on HIV/AIDS, which was convened by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Heroes Project in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Avahan Initiative (Joint release, 1/6). The executives pledged to "use their collective communications expertise and resources" to reach Indians -- especially youth -- with information about HIV prevention and combating stigma and discrimination associated with the disease, according to IANS/NewKerala.com. The media companies pledging their support included Star TV, NDTV, SET India, MTV India, Zee TV, the Hindustan Times and Dainik Jagran (IANS/NewKerala.com, 1/6). "Media, which conveys information and molds public opinion, must remain at the heart of our campaign to help people make informed choices," Singh said (Indo-Asian News Service, 1/6). Actor Richard Gere, co-founder of the Heroes Project who attended the meeting, told reporters, "There is a window of opportunity right now. If everyone gets serious, you can escape what happens tragically in Africa. The quickest way one can change anything is through the media" (AP/Boston Globe, 1/6).
Singh To Chair National Council on AIDS
Singh on Thursday also announced that he will chair the newly created National Council on AIDS, which will include members of the media, nongovernmental organizations, HIV/AIDS groups, the Planning Commission and various other governmental ministries. According to S.Y. Qureshi, director general of India's National AIDS Control Organization, the main objective of the council is to "advise, guide and provide directions" to NACO, assist the ministries in implementing HIV/AIDS strategies and "help scale up the capabilities of industry and others in controlling the disease," according to The Hindu (Sunderarajan, The Hindu, 1/6). Singh added that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has become a "socioeconomic and development concern and could hurt growth if not checked," according to Reuters (Reuters, 1/6). Singh added, "Though HIV/AIDS can affect everyone, it is often the poor, youth and women in distress who are most vulnerable. We have no choice but to act, and act with firmness, with urgency and with utmost seriousness" (Indo-Asian News Service, 1/6).
Additional information on HIV/AIDS in India is available online as part of kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on HIV/AIDS.