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HIV/AIDS: Nagaland prevalence rate decreases to 0.78%

LFA Nagaland  making efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination: Sazo

Speaker of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, Chotisuh Sazo, has said that the prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS in Nagaland has come down from 1.20% to 0.78% in the last three years. He was speaking at the North East Regional consultation on HIV/AIDS organized by the Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV & AIDS at Pragijyoti ITA Auditorium, Guwahati on June 7 and 8. Sazo said that since North Eastern states share a porous boundary with Bangladesh and Myanmar, efforts should be made to have cross International border interventions.

Facilities should be provided on both sides and effective mechanisms should be devised to reach out to appropriate target groups, he said. The NLA Speaker asserted that HIV/AIDS has wide ranging impact on society and that everyone should make cumulative efforts to make people with HIV/AIDS live a life of honour and dignity.
“As Parliamentarians we are all leaders in our society and have the trust and confidence of our people. Hence, we should act in the interest of the entire community and set examples whereby others can follow,” he said.

He informed that in Nagaland, the Legislators Forum on AIDS (LFA) was formed in 2003 and has now taken root in Nagaland with active participation from all elected members cutting across party lines. Since 2008, every legislator has been contributing Rs. 1 lakh each to the LFA to carry out political advocacy and generate awareness among the masses.

LFA has successfully carried out campaigns in almost all the constituencies of the state with active participation from elected leaders. Its achievements have been disseminated through newsletters, newspapers and appropriate print and electronic media in the state. Further, the LFA also supplements and compliments the NACO programme.

He also highlighted some of the key achievements of the LFA, which included mobilizing fund from Local Area Development Programme fund, formation of state council on AIDS with the Chief Minister of Nagaland as the Chairman, adopting HIV & Drugs Policy, sensitization of legislators through exposure trips to the best practices in different countries and registration of LFA as a Society under the Society Registration Act.

In the future, LFA aims to strengthen itself by providing political commitment and support, to create schemes for HIV affected individuals and orphans, to mobilize more funds through different developmental schemes, to educate and evolve community support systems by empowering community and faith based organization, to improve health facilities at all levels, to provide easy access to treatment and care, to ensure HIV/AIDS is kept in the political agenda and to explore possibilities of cross border intervention with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“LFA in Nagaland is gearing up towards putting serious efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination through strategic planning,” Sazo said adding that Nagaland Legislators’ Forum on HIV & AIDS is committed to achieve its goal within a time frame.

“In this context, it is inspiring to note that the LFA-UNAIDS has carried out multifarious activities in Nagaland to eliminate the stigma and discrimination against HIV victims and to educate the people,” Sazo said.

He informed that it has conducted coordination meetings with NSACS and NNP+, organized state level convention, HIV & AIDS sensitization meeting and awareness programme on HIV & AIDS apart from various other activities.

Sazo also appreciated the role played by the Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV & AIDS and hoped that with united efforts, “we shall be able to reduce, if not eliminate, HIV/AIDS from our states and the country as a whole and shall be able to shape a healthy society.” He also stated that co-infection of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C is quite common in North East India. However, there is no strategic approach to control Hepatitis C, he said, urging the gathering to mainstream control of Hepatitis C in HIV/AIDS Programme.

Also stating that providing adequate resources to the HIV programmes has been a constraint to almost all the NE states, he suggested to the house that DONER ministry should make state wise fund allocation to address HIV/AIDS.

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