A special programme was jointly organised by government and different organisations on the occasion of World AIDS Day on December 1 at Bhrikuti Mandap.

Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Health and Population, Amik Sherchan, who was the chief guest at the programme said, “The trend of discussing this issue only on the World AIDS Day and then not doing anything about it the rest of the year should be discontinued.”

This year’s theme is ‘Stop AIDS — Keep the Promise, we are all accountable’.

“We realised that the promises, in the form of slogans, made every year were not being kept. So from last year we have decided to stick with the slogan ‘Keep the Promise’ for the next five years as a reminder to all of us that all promises need to be fulfiled,” said Rajiv Kafle, president of Federation of HIV Positive people. Different organisations working in the field of HIV/AIDS had put up various stalls to spread spread awareness. The Ministry of Health and Population had set up a stall for Voluntary Test and Counselling (VTC).

Minister Sherchan also flagged off a cycle rally led by Pushkar Shah, the renowned cyclist who has travelled the world on his bicycle.

There are only 8,000 registered HIV-positive cases in Nepal, whereas the real number is estimated at around 70,000. According to Kafle, 90 per cent of the estimated cases don’t know that they are infected by the virus.

“Silence is death, so we should spread the message to everyone,” said UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Aurorita Mendoza.

Stressing on Kofi Annan’s message of ‘AIDS stops with me’, Mendoza urged every person — leaders, politicians, MPs and the common man — to heed Annan’s words.

She also said that everyone is accountable and responsible for ‘quality life’ for people with HIV, to recognise the problems of HIV being spread through drug use and homosexuals, and to help them come out of the closet and assume their place in society.

Pointing out that AIDS control has become a “formidable challenge” for Nepal, Dr Mahesh Maskey, advisor to the Ministry of Health, listed illiteracy, topography and socio-economic conditions as the major obstacles.

AIDS Day at Radisson

KATHMANDU: Radisson Hotel in partnership with Deep Jyoti International Pvt Ltd and Shrestha Photocopy, hosted an AIDS awareness campaign at the hotel premises and a rally on December 1.

The rally that began at the hotel went through Dubarmarg and Ratnapark and ended at the hotel. The slogan was ‘Safe sex, Radisson cares’ and ‘Stop AIDS, keep the promise’.

General Manager of Radisson Hotel Dorjee Sherpa said, “We are trying to generate awareness among people to help HIV/AIDS victims and also about safe sex.”

At the programme, Deep Jyoti International distributed the newly launched vibrating condom, Vicon, to the participants.

Rajeshwor Shrestha from Deep Jyoti said they were distributing the condoms as “prevention is better than cure”. — HNS

Funds ‘not properly channelised’

KATHMANDU: “We don’t want love or sympathy. We want our right to live, work and especially our right for treatment,” said Roji Khadgi at the World AIDS Day programme at Bhrikutimandap.

Khadgi is the president of Shahara Plus, an organisation for HIV positive women and children that shelters around 35 women and 11 children at present. Fifteen of the Sahara women are being given vocational training at present.

Khadgi, who is an HIV-positive person, complained that the funds donated for the AIDS programme has not reached the target people. She alleged that the funds are not being channelised properly, and also that the organisations are not doing enough for them. Khadgi put forward this problem to minister Amik Sherchan, who later addressed the issue in his speech at the programme.

When asked about the issue, UNAIDS Country Coordinator Aurorita Mendoza, acknowledged the existence of the problem and said, “We have spoken to the partners about the funds and channels, which include civil society and HIV-infected people. We need to strengthen them to make sure the funds reach the target community.”

She added about 130 organisations are involved in channelising funds in Nepal, and expressed optimism at the improved situation of the country saying there is a good opportunity to work in this sector even at the district level. — HNS