U.N. Agencies, Indian Government Launch Campaign To Increase HIV/AIDS Awareness Among Young Women, Girls
The Coordinated HIV/AIDS Response Through Capacity Building and Awareness -- along with the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNAIDS and Indian government agencies -- on Tuesday is scheduled to begin a campaign to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among young women and girls in India ages 15 to 29, IANS/newindpress.com reports (IANS/newindpress.com, 3/3). CHARCA is a joint U.N. program aimed at young women and girls in India for prevention of and education about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. According to U.N. experts, women account for about 40% of HIV cases in India, and there has been a recent rise in HIV prevalence among women and girls ages 15 to 24. "India has the right laws, policies and money, ... but implementation is an issue which needs to be addressed," UNAIDS Country Coordinator Denis Broun said at a news conference on Friday, adding, "The need of the hour is to reach out to young women living in extremely difficult and marginal circumstances" (UNI/WebIndia123.com, 3/3). Broun said that in addition to a lack of awareness about the virus in Indian communities, women's "vulnerability" to HIV often is because of their husbands, with about 80% of new HIV cases among women last year occurring within marriage. Archana Tamang, chief of the women's human rights and security unit of UNIFEM, said that women also are at greater risk of contracting HIV because of biological differences, gender disparities, lack of education and sex trafficking (IANS/NewKerala.com, 3/3). More than two million HIV-positive girls and women live in India (IANS/newindpress.com, 3/3).
The new campaign, titled "Commitment to Protect the Young and Vulnerable," aims to use rock concerts, plays and skits in the Indian cities of Aizawl, Udaipur and Bellary. "We look at it as an advocacy tool using the popular format of music to draw the attention of policymakers at both the national and state levels," Alankar Malviya -- a project coordinator for CHARCA said, adding, "It is clear that by dedicating the International Women's Day (March 8) to the issue of reducing women's growing susceptibility to the disease, we recognize the enormity of it" (IANS/newindpress.com, 3/3).
HIV-Positive Woman Running for Legislature in India's Assam State
An HIV-positive woman who advocates for increased HIV/AIDS awareness and heads the Assam Network of Positive People on Sunday submitted an application to run for an Assembly seat in the Indian state of Assam, Calcutta's Telegraph reports (Telegraph, 3/6). Jahnabi Goswami -- who has called for regular HIV testing, especially among engaged couples -- will run for state assembly for the Congress Party, which is the ruling party in the state and in the national government. "In our society, you see people going to astrologers to know if their horoscopes match their partner's to see if they will be compatible," Goswami said, adding, "They should be going for [HIV] tests instead" (AFP/Gulf Times, 3/4). She said Congress Party officials asked her to run to show "there is a need for people like me, who can become future policy makers, especially in issues related to fighting the HIV/AIDS menace in the region." State residents on April 3 and April 10 go to the polls to elect the Legislature (Hussain, IANS/Hindustan Times, 3/6).