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The world has come to recognise HIV/AIDS as a major developmental challenge as there is no known cure for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) till now. The situation of HIV/AIDS in India is serious with the spread no longer confined to high risk groups alone. Having penetrated into the general population it is now fast spreading to rural areas, placing women and youth at much greater risk and there is an growing population of children who are born with this infection. The increasing vulnerability of the general population calls for a well coordinated national effort in order to contain the infection from spreading it further.

Issues related to HIV/AIDS are complex in nature as the infection affects not only the individual, family or community but the society as a whole. Apart from health, there are other socio-economic and cultural constraints attached to this infection which makes it different from other diseases. There is an urgent need to equip people with knowledge and skills enabling them to know how to protect themselves. Along with prevention, awareness is required in the area of ‘care and support’ to those who are infected and affected with HIV/AIDS.

In Uttar Pradesh, HIV is primarily transmitted through outmigration to various other states. Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (UPSACS), the nodal agency on HIV/AIDS for the state of Uttar Pradesh, has been implementing a number of prevention interventions among migrants, truck drivers, female sex workers, men having sex with men and injecting drug users in the entire state. Prevention of Parent To Child Transmission (PPTCT), Blood Safety, control of sexually transmitted infection services have been scaled up in the whole state.

UPSACS provides free Counselling and Testing facilities for HIV infected people through ICTC and PPTCT centres, F-ICTC situated in district hospitals and through centres on public –private partnership basis. There are facilities for Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) of persons living with HIV in all the Medical Colleges in the state and in selected district hospitals, where burden of HIV is high. Various services mentioned above have been scaled up greatly during the last few years and more and more people from the state are utilizing these services. Number of children and women living with HIV utilizing various services like PPTCT and ART have been continuously increasing over the years. All these interventions have yielded good results and there is evidence of stabilizing or declining trend of HIV in the state. RTI/STI services are being provided through STD clinics branded as ‘Suraksha Clinics’ situated in District Hospitals and Medical Colleges in the state. Blood Banks facilities in the state are available through 89 Government / NACO supported, 188 private sector and 8 blood banks in army hospitals.

The stigma associated with HIV/AIDS has been a major barrier to all the efforts being made for its prevention. It also works as an impediment in mitigating its impact on individuals and communities. Many myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS exist even today. Lack of information as well as inadequate dialogue on safe sex has made people more vulnerable to HIV. People living with HIV/AIDS face discrimination in society, at work places, educational institutions and sometimes even at their homes. UPSACS has been persistently working on dissemination of information and creating awareness through its effective and visible IEC initiatives across the state. HIV/AIDS can be effectively addressed only through a multi-sectoral approach. Involvement and support of various government and non government institutions and civil society organization is needed to create an enabling environment free of stigma and discrimination for the infected and affected in the society. Active participation of youth in voluntary blood donation can save the lives of many who die due to unavailability of safe blood. Let us all to come together and join hands in achieving our goal of ‘Zero Prevalence’, ‘Zero death’ and ‘Zero New Infection’ in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Kamini Chauhan Ratan ,IAS
Project Director,