Youth Campaign To Fight HIV/AIDS in Indian City, Times of India Reports
A campaign to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS through youth leadership, called "Wake up Pune," has planned several activities in the Indian city of Pune between Sept. 7 and Dec. 1, the Times of India reports. According to Hans Billimoria of the Deep Griha Society, the campaign -- which was initiated by youth, local volunteer groups, and national and international nongovernmental organizations -- intends to "stimulate, strengthen and empower young leadership by roping them in planning, implementation of policies and creating awareness about the related issues."
Tejaswini Sevekari of the group Saheli said that policies and programs aimed at curbing HIV/AIDS will be most effective if they include young people in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In addition, Sevekari said HIV/AIDS must be addressed in terms of young people's experiences and must promote their sexual and reproductive rights. She added that availability of evidence-based HIV prevention and comprehensive sex education are the most effective and sustainable modes of prevention. "Young people must have the information, knowledge and skills to protect themselves" from HIV, Sevekari said, adding, "But lack of awareness, stigma and discrimination make health services inaccessible to the young." Billimoria added that "youths must be encouraged to take up leadership roles in wide-range processes" to "turn around" the HIV epidemic.
The Times of India reports that there were approximately 2.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in India in 2006 and that although nearly 25% of the country's population is between ages 15 and 29, this group accounts for 31% of HIV/AIDS cases (Times of India, 9/25).