Punjab is gearing up to counter the AIDS threat with the help of HIV positive people and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Pooja Thakur, herself an HIV positive person and an activist, is determined to educate people in the high risk areas like slums about the HIV/AIDS.
She runs an NGO "Chandigarh Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS" with a mission to give support to HIV infected women and children, who suffer from stigma, isolation and diseases.
"I am a witness to neglect and discrimination faced by a HIV positive person. So I was looking for a support to do my bit for HIV people, which I got by joining the Network," said Thakur.
A barber shop in Burail, a colony of nearly 100,000 migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in Chandigarh, has hit upon an idea to disseminate HIV and AIDS related information to its clients.
The shop provides handouts and condoms to youngsters, in view that in most of the cases the virus is transmitted through the sexual route.
Sunil, a resident, said: "I regularly visit the saloon for a shave and they have been making me aware about HIV/AIDS. I share the information with my friends and brothers for a safe life."
Apart from NGOs, government institutions like the Chandigarh AIDS Control Society, has taken a lead in providing infrastructural support to HIV/AIDS patients.
Chandigarh is the focal point for the State to provide free of cost counselling, testing and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
The Chandigarh AIDS Control Society plans to start two centres of sexually transmitted infections in the private sectors in the collaboration with general practitioners.
"We are training them (doctors) and providing them drugs under the Syndromic Management. This will be one of the first government-private partnerships," said Dr. Suvir Saxena, Project Director, Chandigarh AIDS Control Society.