Gangtok, 27 Nov:
Sikkim State AIDS Control Society [SSACS] is celebrating World AIDS Day on the theme, ‘Communities Make the Difference,’ on 01 December here at Chintan Bhawan. A highlight of the celebration will the finale of Red Fest IV, a multi-media campaign.
The celebration will also felicitate 13 personalities for their selfless contributions towards raising HIV/ AIDS awareness and assisting efforts to combat the challenge.
Addressing a press conference here today, SSACS Project Director, Dr Sarita Lama, informed that SSACS has been celebrating the World AIDS Day every year with a series of activities to create wider awareness on HIV/ AIDS and related issues. She stated that the government has been working to support people living with HIV/AIDS and remove discrimination and stigma from the society through awareness.
The World AIDS Day 2019 celebration will have the Health Minister, Dr MK Sharma, chief guest and will also be attended by officials of different line departments, members of Red Ribbon Clubs from different schools along with students from different schools and colleges and representatives from NGOs working in HIV/AIDS.
Likewise, the grand finale of the Multi Media Campaign will have UD&HD Minister, Arun Uprety, as chief guest.
Dr Lama mentioned that the objective of the celebration was to generate awareness and to highlight the different programmes and initiatives of the government on this issue.
She stated that Sikkim has an HIV prevalence rate of 0.5% and has been recognized as the Best Performing State in the country when it comes to AIDS awareness interventions.
She informed that SSACS has been mainly working among the 20 to 39 years age-group through different programmes and initiatives.
Responding to media queries, Dr Lama informed that the State has a cumulative figure of 480 cases of HIV positive since 1995. This includes the 33 new cases of HIV-positive people detected in the State this year.
Of the 480, 289 are male and 191 females. 176 of the HIV+ve people are aged between 20 to 29 and 167 cases have been reported in age group of 30 to 39 years.
Additional Director, Health Department, Dr D S Kerongi, further mentioned that the cumulative figure was from those who came forward to get tested. He added that the real magnitude of the problem was still unknown and would become clear only if everyone got an HIV test done.
He informed that an ART Centre, where HIV+ve people can receive antiretroviral therapy, was established at the New STNM Hospital and a link centre at Namchi in South Sikkim.
He also shared details about the treatment, follow-up, counseling and other support provided to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile, for the Red Fest, six bands have been shortlisted for the grand finale to be held on the afternoon of 01 December at Manan Kendra. A total of 21 bands had auditioned for the Fest. The six shortlisted bands are Blastonic, G-Force, Guns from the Countryside, Bipolar Shadows, Himalayan Junkies, the Crossroad.
Still Waters, Nightmares and Roll Heads will also be performing as guest bands on the day.
The winner of the campaign will receive a cash prize of Rs 70,000 and get the chance to represent Sikkim at the 2nd Northeast Multi Media Campaign to be held in Imphal, Manipur.
Recovering Users Network [RUN] is the NGO partner of Multi Media Campaign 2019-20. KC Nima of RUN stated that RUN has been working hard to create mass awareness especially among targeted age groups through music.
He added that RUN has also been working to reach out to the remaining population of the State to encourage them to get themselves tested for HIV and to remove stigma from the society.