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HIV News from India (Jan 07, 2006)

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    ********************************************************** SAATHII Electronic News Letter HIV NEWS FROM INDIA SOURCE: www.tmcnet.com, www.ndtv.com,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2006
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      **********************************************************
      SAATHII Electronic News Letter
      HIV NEWS FROM INDIA

      SOURCE: www.tmcnet.com, www.ndtv.com,
      www.greaterkashmir.com and news.webindia123.com.

      Posted on: 07/01/2006

      COMPILED BY: B.Vilasini and L Ramakrishnan
      SAATHII Chennai office

      Note: this compilation contains news items about HIV/AIDS
      published in the Indian media, as well as articles relevant to
      HIV/AIDS in India published internationally. Articles in this
      and previous newsletters may also be accessed at
      http://www.saathii.org/orc/elibrary

      ==============================================================================

      1. UN body may deny funds for states AIDS projects.
      www.tmcnet.com, January 05, 2006.
      http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/jan/1264652.htm

      2. Debate rages over mandatory HIV tests.
      www.ndtv.com, January 05, 2006.
      http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?category=National&template=Aids&slug=Debate+rages+over+mandatory+HIV+tests&id=83336&callid=1

      3. NGOs allege police high handedness in arrest of 'gays'.
      www.newkerala.com, Januray 06, 2006.
      http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=80278

      4. NSUI holds symposium on AIDS.
      www.greaterkashmir.com, January 07, 2006.
      http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp?ItemID=13988&cat=6

      5. Activists happy over decline in AIDS.
      news.webindia123.com, January 07, 2006.
      http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=212498&cat=Health

      6. Rs 40,000 cr Reproductive and Child Health Programme.
      www.newkerala.com, January 07, 2006.
      http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=80883

      ==============================================================================

      1. UN body may deny funds for states AIDS projects.
      www.tmcnet.com, January 05, 2006.
      http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/jan/1264652.htm


      Mumbai: The Maharashtra government-promoted AIDS Research and Control
      Centre (ARCON) may miss out international grants, thanks to the state's inept
      handling of its affairs. The Geneva-based UN agency, the Global Fund Against
      AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), which has been pumping in funds into ARCON, has
      now decided to review its performance after receiving a number of complaints.
      The GFATM recently had sanctioned Rs 71 crore for ARCON projects.

      The GFATM's decision to review its operations comes, following controversies
      which have marred ARCON's functioning in the past during which its officials
      were shunted out due to differences with the state government officials.
      When contacted, incumbent medical education secretary AM Khan said, "I am
      reviewing the ARCON's overall functioning".

      "As per the rule, state officials should not run ARCON. It is supposed to be
      an NGO," an official concerned told ET. ARCON was started in '94 in association
      with foreign institutes. The secretary of the Maharashtra's medical education
      department as its ex-officio chairman.

      "It was expected, the state government, over the years, would give up its
      control over ARCON and allow it to function as an NGO. The institute was to be
      reconstituted to make it an autonomous body. Instead, it made ARCON another
      state-run machinery," an official said. The agency has its headquarters at the
      government-controlled JJ Hospitals.

      Later, the agency was appointed as a lead institution Karnataka,
      Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, besides Maharashtra. It also started receiving
      aid from the GFTAM to deliver anti-AIDS treatment in these states.

      ARCON was recently pulled up by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) for
      its financial and overall mismanagement. It also has taken out the
      responsibility of three other states from ARCON, sources said. Sources added a
      fresh review by GFATM would add further trouble for ARCON. The process is
      expected to be over in another month's time.

      ==============================================================================

      2. Debate rages over mandatory HIV tests.
      www.ndtv.com, January 05, 2006.
      http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?category=National&template=Aids&slug=Debate+rages+over+mandatory+HIV+tests&id=83336&callid=1


      Mumbai: A public interest litigation (PIL) in Bombay High Court demanding
      mandatory HIV tests before marriage has snowballed into an ethical debate.
      Activists say privacy issues apart, such a step will not even be effective in
      containing transmission of the killer virus.

      "Testing before marriage may not give protection after it. You don't know how
      the spouse will behave after marriage,'' said Dr Anand Chitale, Joint Director,
      Maharashtra AIDS Control Society. ''Of the women who come to me, 99 per cent
      have been infected by their husbands. But I don't think pre-marital testing is
      a solution,'' said Dr Alka Deshpande, JJ Hospital, Mumbai.


      Opinion divided

      However, the petitioners - Maharashtra Law Graduates Association - say if
      there is no strict law then people will continue to get infected by spouses,
      for no fault of theirs. "A person must be aware that his/her spouse is
      HIV positive. If someone gets into this voluntarily, it's fine but someone
      concealing this deliberately is like cheating,'' said Jaya Nair, petitioner's
      lawyer.

      On one hand is a person living with HIV/AIDS and the question of his basic
      human rights and privacy issues. One the other, a person who is not
      HIV positive and his right to life. Even activists are divided as this debate
      gains momentum in the High Court. But one thing is clear – the judgment will
      be a landmark one for Maharashtra, which is one of the highest risk states of
      India.

      ==============================================================================

      3. NGOs allege police high handedness in arrest of 'gays'.
      www.newkerala.com, Januray 06, 2006.
      http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=80278


      Lucknow: Following the recent arrest of four alleged gays by the Uttar Pradesh
      Police here, NGOs associated with the third phase of National AIDS Prevention
      Programme (NAPP-3) have claimed it could derail the programme.

      A group of NGOs even sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- who is
      also the National AIDS Council chairperson -- apprising him of the ''police
      harrassement'' of the reported gays in the city.

      The NGOs working for the prevention of AIDS have already asked the centre to
      amend section 377 of the IPC, which deals with the gay activity with
      imprisonment of upto 10 yrs. Naz Foundation International executive director
      Arif Zaffar told UNI here today it was ''unethical'' to term people as ''gay''.

      ''It will certainly hamper the HIV/AIDS prevention programme in UP as people
      involved in homosexual behaviour are more prone to the HIV/AIDS,'' he added.
      Mr Zaffar opined police could charge the arrested people with indecent sexual
      behaviour in a public place, but disclosing their names and phone numbers was
      ''unethical.'' The Foundation officials alleged police was trying to implicate
      the NGOs involved in AIDS prevention programmes in UP for promoting
      homosexuality.

      According to an NGO associate, a recent NAPP-3 report claimed the section 377
      was the main hurdle in containing HIV/AIDS as homosexuals were most
      ''vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.'' United Nation Gays India report to be submitted in
      May during the special session on HIV-AIDS in the UN General Assembly also
      projected there were about a lakh homosexuals in Uttar Pradesh of which 5,000
      have already been identified in Lucknow.

      The meeting of the NGOs, which was represented by Naz India Foundation,
      Action Aid, Network for people Living with HIV-AIDS had also expressed
      high-handedness by the police. On the night of January 3, cops had arrested
      four men indulging in ''unnatural sex'' at a picnic spot here.

      Upon interrogation, the four -- Nihal Ahmed, an asistant accountant in the
      State Public Services Commission, Pankaj, a college teacher and Ashutosh and
      Pritam working in an ad agency -- revealed they were members of the gay club.
      The quartet confessed they interacted with 'willing members' using a website
      which was password protected. The willing members met and indulged in sexual
      acts at secluded spots.

      The arrested people claimed the members of the club were spread as far away as
      Singapore, Delhi, Jhansi, Chennai and Bareilly.The accused also provided police
      with names and mobile numbers of 18 other members.

      ==============================================================================

      4. NSUI holds symposium on AIDS.
      www.greaterkashmir.com, January 07, 2006.
      http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp?ItemID=13988&cat=6


      Jammu: National Students Union of India (NSUI) organised a symposium on
      HIV/AIDS here on Thursday. Jugul Kishore, MLA Reasi, while addressing the
      students said the youth were more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, and the students
      union should fight against this dangerous disease. He said the government is
      spending crores of rupees for the prevention of HIV/AIDS through various
      programmes and the students should cooperate the administration for the
      prevention of this disease. Rajiv Saraf, president NSUI said that the youths
      are the backbone of the country and the youth should give moral boost to
      HIV/AIDS patients.

      ==============================================================================

      5. Activists happy over decline in AIDS.
      news.webindia123.com, January 07, 2006.
      http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=212498&cat=Health


      Ahmedabad: Social activists and health workers are elated over a drop in AIDS
      cases in Gujarat. Out of the population tested by the National AIDS Control
      Organisation (NACO) for sexually transmitted cases, there has been a fall in
      the number of AIDS cases in Gujarat from 4.48 percent in 2003 to 3.6 percent
      in 2004.

      In the low risk group, the occurrence of the disease is down from 0.38 in
      2003 to 0.13 in 2004. Figures for 2005 would be even lower, experts say.
      Says Laxman Malodia of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run AIDS Control
      Society: "We have 5,636 HIV positive cases registered in the state, of which
      779 are in the city. If the number of fresh cases had been increasing rapidly,
      the cases registered would have doubled.

      "There are 200-210 fresh cases registered every year. We do not have the
      complete data for 2005, but I don't think it would surpass the figure".
      However, sociologist and AIDS awareness activist Gaurang Jani from Ahmedabad
      feels that the monitoring system is not well equipped to present a true
      picture on the prevalence of AIDS.

      "The prevalence rate of the disease is determined by taking data from a
      limited number of government hospitals. Of course, 25 NGOs are also into
      testing HIV now but this is not enough. Therefore we have to rely on this
      limited data," he said.

      Malodia disagrees: "Although several patients get themselves tested in private
      clinics and are never reported directly, they finally turn up at the
      government hospitals, which alone can provide them proper treatment. So,
      ultimately they get reported". Campaigners meanwhile have something more to
      pin their hopes upon - the fact that HIV positive cases have not shown any
      marked increase.

      According to the last survey of the high-risk conducted in 2003, only
      13.2 percent female sex workers were found positive. "Compared to the high
      numbers of infected persons in Mumbai's sex industry, the situation in
      Ahmedabad is less alarming. This is primarily due to increased awareness about
      AIDS among the sex workers," said Jani. "The change has been the result of
      more than 150 organisations actively working with sex workers and in slum
      areas," said Jani.

      ==============================================================================

      6. Rs 40,000 cr Reproductive and Child Health Programme.
      www.newkerala.com, January 07, 2006.
      http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=80883

      Kochi: The Centre will spend Rs 40,000 crore over the next five years on the
      second phase of the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH-II) programme to be
      launched this year, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani
      Ramadoss said here.

      Inaugurating the 49th All India Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology last
      night, he said the programme was aimed at 'covering the last child and the
      last woman with health care services.' Describing it as a ''big shame'' that
      India continued to have a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of over 400 per
      100,000 births for the past 30 years, Dr Ramadoss said even neighbouring
      countries such as Sri Lanka had been able to bring this down to 100.

      'This is the biggest challenge facing the Health Ministry today,' he said,
      adding the Centre had launched several new programmes and revamped old ones to
      make healthcare delivery services more effective, especially in rural areas.
      The National Rural Health Mission, launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
      last year, was the biggest initiative in the health sector in the past
      50 years and its three-pronged aim was to reduce infant mortality rate,
      maternal mortality rate and population.

      Nearly 250,000 villages in 18 worst-affected states would be covered under
      this programme, he said. The government's 'Accredited Social Health Activists'
      (ASHA) scheme was aimed at training one woman in each village to take up the
      responsibility of ensuring full immunisation, ante-natal check-ups, safe
      delivery and family planning services in their areas.

      Under the 'Janani Suraksha Yojana', over 3000 block-level hospitals would be
      equipped with modern labour and delivery rooms and blood banks. The latter was
      particularly important as post-partum haemorrhage and anaemia were the biggest
      cause of the high maternal mortality rate. To check parent to child
      transmission of HIV, free anti-retroviral treatment (ART) would be made
      available in 3,000 health centres in the next three years from the present 380.

      Earlier, the newly installed President of the Federation of Obstetric and
      Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) Dr Daru Shah said 'Preventing HIV
      and Promoting Contraception' would be the main theme of programmes taken up
      by the Federation this year. The programmes would be specially targeted at
      youth, who, while constituting nearly 70 per cent of the population, had
      little awareness of sexual and reproductive health, she added.

      Others present at the inaugural of the five-day Congress, being attended by
      nearly 5,400 delegates, were Kerala Health Minister K K Ramachandran and
      Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary P C Hota.

      ==============================================================================

      Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in the above articles
      are those of the respective newspapers, not those of
      SAATHII.
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