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Guv treats HIV kids to special lunch

Story: The | Goan | 01st December 2015, 12:00 Hrs

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, around 15 HIV-affected children on Tuesday met Governor Mridula Sinha. The kids, who were treated to a special lunch by Raj Bhavan, also submitted a memorandum to the Governor detailing out their needs and concerns.

The memorandum highlighted issues such as the need for social protection offered by government schemes like the Dayanand Social Security Scheme, the need for reducing the stigma and discrimination in educational institutions and requirement of support towards career and also self-employment initiatives.

The visit was a part of the day-long programme organised by Positive People and Human Touch. The children also visited six other government departments where they pinned red ribbons, worn as a mark of solidarity with the people living with HIV-AIDS and as a symbol of awareness, on each and every employee.

The visit was also made to Department of Art and Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports Affairs and Women Cell of Panaji Police.

The objective of the visits was to sensitise the staff of various departments on the issues of children living and affected by HIV, thereby mainstreaming HIV, and to provide an opportunity to contribute to the welfare of children living with HIV, thereby strengthening the care and support initiatives of the organizations.

Speaking to The Goan, Peter Borges of Human Touch, stated, “The real challenge is providing care and concrete support to the people, especially children living with HIV-AIDS. Now that the world has realized that it is possible to live with HIV, the biggest task is to ensure that every person living with it has to face zero-discrimination and zero-infections from other diseases.”

It was claimed that the Goa Government through the Goa State AIDS Control Society has been sluggish in their response, and to add insult to injury, have not even disbursed the meager amounts received from the central government to the nine NGOs working with ‘most at risk’ populations, to control HIV.

The two NGOs observed that the bureaucratic delays and a funding crunch that is plaguing the HIV programme in the state has resulted in loss of trained staff, which is turn affecting focus, coverage and intensity. Considerable stress was laid on the financial commitment from the State government towards the State HIV programme, which is currently funded entirely by the Central government.

Referring to the response of the State government and Goa State AIDS Control Society to the discrimination meted out to 23 HIV positive children 18 months ago in Rivona, Positive People described it as "disappointing" and "tokenistic".

“We expected a more effective response to counter such situations in future,” said the team members of Positive People and Human Touch.

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