Awareness drive on HIV, TB begins

Himalayan News Service

Lalitpur, March 1:

Only a joint effort of health workers, organisations working for HIV/AIDS victims and people can fight such dreaded diseases as HIV/AIDS and TB, participants at an awareness programme on HIV/AIDS and TB said today.

They were speaking at an inaugural function of a public awareness programme on HIV/AIDS and TB launched jointly by Nava Kiran Plus and Oxygen Research and Development Forum (ORDF). People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are very vulnerable to being infected tuberculosis therefore more programmes should be conducted to aware people from being infected with the diseases, they said. Siddhi Aryal of ORDF presenting the action plan of ORDF said, “70 per cent of PLWHA are also infected with TB but the joint effort from all the sectors concerned can lessen the burden of HIV and TB.

Lack of awareness on treatment of TB will affect HIV/AIDS patients more than normal TB patients.”

Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) centres will help the vulnerable group — PLWHA, injecting drug users and males having sex with males — by awaring them about the infection and by helping them to come to the health centres for proper treatment, he added.

Rajiv Kafle of Nava Kiran Plus said that a person infected with HIV/AIDS can lead a healthy life if the person maintains a balanced life with healthy diet and medication.

He said, “We have plans to establish five VCT centres in Kathmandu Valley and five outside the valley. These centres will work to prevent the vulnerable groups from being infected with TB and other opportunistic infections.”

We will also work to scale up antiretroviral (ARV) drugs administration facilities and increase the use of treatment.

“If proper information on the diseases can be disseminated on time it will result in increase in the demand for ARV treatment and VCT.”

In the awareness programme, one HIV/AIDS patient Shankar Kafle, who has been living with the disease for two years and was infected with TB, narrated his story about the difficulty he had to undergo due to the lack of experts to treat the patients with HIV/AIDS and TB.

According to the data compiled by the UNAIDS in 2004, some 62,000 people aged 15-49 were infected with HIV/AIDS in Nepal. This is 0.4 per cent of the total population.