Parliamentarians join hands to strengthen India’s HIV response
New Delhi (November 30, 2015): In observance of World AIDS Day 2015 on December 1st, parliamentarians from across party lines came together today in the capital to enhance India’s HIV response.
Organised by the National Coalition of People Living with HIV in India (NCPI+) in partnership with India HIV/AIDS Alliance and End AIDS India, the event “Positive Power! All-India Leadership Summit” saw participation by more than 200 leaders living with HIV along with Members of Parliament, policymakers, government bureaucrats, media representatives, UN organisations, donors, and civil society to deliberate on the future of HIV/AIDS in India.
The event enabled a constructive dialogue between People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and four key collaborators: parliamentarians, the media, development partners, and the government. PLHIV shared their experiences and challenges such as service interruptions and stigma. The PLHIV leadership dialogues with each group identified practical opportunities to ensure access to treatment and enable the robust continuance of India’s HIV programme.
Priya Dutt, Secretary of the Indian National Congress and former Member of Parliament; Oscar Fernandes, Senior Congress leader and former member of the Union cabinet; Supriya Sule, current Member of Parliament from the Congress Party; and Dr. Dharam Vir Gandhi, current Member of Parliament from the Aam Aadmi Party affirmed their commitment towards strengthening India’s HIV response and called for collective action towards this goal.
Prominent HIV activist and the President of NCPI+ Daxa Patel stated, “It is the right of every person living with HIV to avail the best treatment, care and support services. India has had free antiretroviral treatment since 2004. Our country’s programme is one of the best in the world. But today our government needs to recommit. India is facing ongoing challenges such as stock-outs of drugs and other commodities. We need access to third-line treatment and viral load testing. The government needs to reconsider the budget cuts that are affecting the programme. It is crucial that our government understands these gaps and works with us to address them.”
“In 2004, the Government of India started establishing Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) centres providing free ART drugs to PLHIV which has now scaled up to 520 ART centres all across India. Nearly 13, 50,000 PLHIV are registered at these ART centres and of them 9 lacs are availing free ART medicines. We have done quite well, but we need to do more and we are committed to ensure all PLHIV who are in need of the treatment has timely access to the treatment.” Dr. A.S. Rathore, Dy. Director General (CST), National AIDS Control Organization.
James Robertson, Executive Director of India HIV/AIDS Alliance, said, “India’s AIDS response has secured real results, but we must not rest on these achievements. The epidemic is not over, and we cannot lose momentum. The relentless advocacy of people living with HIV has been transformative. PLHIV leadership has enabled collaboration with bureaucrats, commitment by politicians, and support from donor agencies and UN organisations. The future of India’s epidemic is in all our hands. Our response must be fueled with political will. Our response must be visible in the media. Our response must be sustained by sufficient resources and funding. The collaboration between the government and the PLHIV community must be strong, and we must never surrender.”
Delegates from India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and development partners such as UNAIDS and the World Bank also showed their solidarity to the issue by being part of the event.
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About India HIV/AIDS Alliance
Founded in 1999, India HIV/AIDS Alliance is a non-governmental organisation operating in partnership with civil society, government and communities to support sustained responses to HIV in India that protect rights and improve health. Complementing the Indian national programme, we build capacity, provide technical support and advocate to strengthen the delivery of effective, innovative, community-based HIV programmes to vulnerable populations affected by the epidemic.
The National Coalition of People Living with HIV in India (NCPI+) is a national coalition of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) individuals and organisations with a vast range of experience and expertise from the grassroots to policy level. NCPI+ is based on the principle that our long experience and expertise must contribute constructively and meaningfully to policy and programme decisions and bring positive change to the lives of PLHIV.
About End AIDS India
End AIDS India is a campaign to reach Indians at home and across the globe to raise awareness and new funding to combat HIV/AIDS. It aims for an India with zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero stigma and discrimination for people affected by HIV. It is a collaborative effort of five respected NGOs and is hosted by India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
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