Mainstreaming HIV: Together We Stand a Chance
UNDP India’s initiative of 'Mainstreaming HIV' is witnessing a process of constructive change. The mainstreaming approach was adopted as a response to the Indian government’s needs-assessment of the HIV/AIDS situation in the country.
The situation analysis inferred (NACP1 -II) that there was a lack of involvement and coordination from the various sections of society that was crucial for a sustained response to the underlying issues of HIV and AIDS. Photo of the Oath taken on World AIDS Day 07Following a training proposed by the UNDP-supported Mainstreaming Unit (MSU), which was setup within the Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society (RSACS) in Jaipur, a concerted and exemplary initiative was launched: On World AIDS Day 2007 leading members from all walks of society pledged to collectively respond to the HIV situation in Rajasthan. The then State Health Minister – Dr Digumber Singh – was the first to sign the oath. Though the oath reiterates the promise to eradicate discrimination and biases towards People living with HIV (PLHIV), the most crucial element is the assurance that policies will be mainstreamed into regular practice: “We will try and provide special leave – a facility we already offer sportspersons – for those who want to undergo HIV testing or ARV treatment”, assures Mr. Puran Singh, Vice President and anti-stigma counsellor of the Secretariat Employees Association2 .
- Strong partnership with the Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society (RSACS) for a sustained response to the underlying issues of HIV and AIDS
- Initiatives support mainstreaming of HIV into the systems of government and non-government organizations such as in department of Panchayati Raj etc
- Workshops have increased the awareness in the corporate sector urging them to address issues of HIV/AIDS within their organizations
- Helped industries and hospitals mainstream HIV-related policies by conducting training sessions for corporate, small and medium-scale industries, schools, colleges and police personnel
Other government bodies such as the Rajasthan Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Department, and the Panchayati Raj Department, have also issued orders to mainstream HIV into their respective systems. These were all results of the MSU’s persistent sensitization efforts. For instance, the Panchayati Raj Department issued an official order to include HIV-related issues in every quarterly Gram Sabha meeting. “The training workshops have increased the awareness among corporates and they realize that it is in their interest to address issues on HIV/AIDS within their organizations”, says Mr. AK Godhika, the Secretary of the Rajasthan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He adds that they have already begun dedicating one page of their monthly journal to awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS.
Others were also inspired. Rajesh Chatturvedi of Smradhi Trust – a local non-governmental organization – has begun working with the private sector in an effort to help industries mainstream HIV-related policies. “The Trust is in talks with the Jindal Group to set up a migration information centre because most of their labourers are migrants”, said Mr. Chatturvedi. The Jindal Group is a steel conglomerate and also a major player in the international market. Based in the Barmer district of Rajasthan, the company’s labourers come from various rural areas of North India and other districts of Rajasthan.
Fortis Escorts – a national-level private hospital – is also on the forefront of this mainstreaming mission. The hospital, under the initiative of Dr. Mala, has organized several training sessions for corporates, small and medium-scale industries, schools, colleges, police and others. The doctor is very inspired: “I am going to start writing a weekly column in the DNA – a daily English newspaper – and since it targets youth I will dedicate some of the columns to raising awareness on HIV/AIDS”.
These are only a few examples on how workshops, awareness raising and advocacy can make a difference and inspire people. In Rajasthan today, mainstreaming as a policy and action agenda is fast becoming the mantra for government, civil society, corporate and individual responses to HIV and AIDS.
1 National AIDS Control Project – an initiative undertaken by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)
2 The Secretariat Employees Association is a state government employees body that is formed in every state in India
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