Bhubaneswar, Nov 23:
‘Concern Worldwide’ which initiated a European Union supported programme, ‘Strengthening Local Responses to HIV and AIDS in Odisha’ in the state since 2009 organised ‘ HIV is Not a Full Stop’ an event here on Friday to mark the closure of the 5-year project aimed at reducing risk and vulnerability to infection and ensure people affected by HIV and AIDS have an improved quality of life by the end of 2013, a press relase issued by the organization said.
Concern Worldwide had launched the 5-year programme with four local partners – Indian Network of People living with HIV and AIDS, Ruchika Social Service Organisation, South Odisha Voluntary Action, Utkal Sevak Samaj in eight districts in 2009.
Laurent Le Danois, Attaché, Development Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to India moderated the session on ‘Gender Dynamics and Increased vulnerability in the context of HIV’ with guest speakers Dr. Amrita Patel from State Resource Centre of Women, WCD Department, Anuja Behera, Joint Director, Targeted Intervention, OSACS and Manisha Majumdar from Christian Aid, the release said.
The second session entitled ‘Livelihood experience and Adherence to ART’ was moderated by Breda Gahan, Global HIV and AIDS Advisor, Concern Worldwide. Geetha Venugopal, Programme Manager, Enable Health Society, Dipankar Datta, Country Director, Trocaire and Dr. Sanjay Pattanaik, Joint Director – Care Support and Treatment, OSACS were the speakers for this session. Both sessions were followed by questions and answers.
During the day’s deliberations, INP+, SOVA, Ruchika and USS showcased their field interventions in an exhibition organisd on the occasion.
Dr. Dhiren Kumar Pattanaik, IAS, Project Director, Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) was present as the Chief Guest on this occasion.
In the afternoon session, Ms. S. Gomathi Programme Manager, Concern Worldwide gave an overview of the programme citing that the focus of programme has been on reducing vulnerability among rural and tribal youth, slum and street adolescents, local transport workers and people living with HIV.
Important achievements of the programme, according to the press release, have been building the knowledge of beneficiaries on HIV and AIDS, increasing their uptake of HIV testing and prevention services, reducing stigma and discrimination among health care providers and community groups, tracking ART defaulters, providing direct livelihood support to People Living with HIV and their families and linking them to referral and health care services.
Annually a total of 49,047 individuals have been outreached which includes 10,413 adolescents, 2,618 local transport workers, 22,453 youth, 1,896 People living with HIV, 11,667 slum communities.
As part of HIV prevention efforts 19,125 individuals were informed of their risks to enable them in making informed choices. 3,439 individuals were referred for HIV testing, 1,325 pregnant women counseled and supported to go for HIV test and 6,853 individuals for STI treatment services.
Stigma within health care facilities inhibited service uptake and through the outreach and sensitization programme 1,592 individual have disclosed HIV positivity status with health care providers. Similar painful rejection, isolation and stigma still prevail within the community and through intervention of Concern Worldwide and partners 1,429 discussed their HIV positivity status with family members.
Beside extending direct livelihood support to 581 People Living with HIV (PLHIV), 232 PLHIVs have been linked to government supported livelihood initiatives, 989 PLHIVs were linked to government’s social security schemes, 473 HIV positive pregnant women were referred for hospital delivery and 744 ART defaulters were tracked. Ms. Gomathi reiterated that there are certain initiatives that could be up-scaled or reviewed in the context of NACP IV.
The event included sharing of testimonies, a 15 minute documentary film about programme participants from their perspective, a book release and felicitation of partners.