Indian Ministry Launches Nationwide Train Trip To Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness Among Youth in Rural Villages
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is finalizing preparations to dispatch a train that over the course of one year will reach 60,000 rural villages nationwide to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among youth, a ministry official recently announced, the Press Trust of India reports. The Red Ribbon Express will have seven coaches equipped with medical equipment; facilities for counseling, examination and treatment; rest rooms; a kitchen; and an auditorium. Doctors, paramedics and volunteers will be on board to provide care to youth.
According to Mayank Agarwal, joint director of the National AIDS Control Organization, the train is expected to stop at 180 stations across the country. Stops will include the vulnerable states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. During the stops, the train's staff will travel to rural areas and spend several days educating residents about HIV/AIDS, as well as facilitating examination and treatment, Agarwal said. He added that the workers also will try to mobilize village youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS and enroll them in a volunteer program to raise awareness about the disease. The team will "take care of any affected persons if we come across them," according to Agarwal.
The train expedition is scheduled to start in December in the southern Indian state of Kanyakumari and return to the same state at the end of one year. An unnamed senior health ministry official said, "Though we have launched AIDS awareness campaigns in villages also, this is for the first time that the ministry is embarking on a massive scale to take the battle to semi-urban and rural areas on train" (Press Trust of India, 7/25).