Madhya Pradesh is forming a network of youth, called the Red Ribbon Clubs, to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS.
The networking process, started recently, is part of the state's strategy to overcome the deadly disease that has affected 1,806 people so far.
"Considering that 40 percent of AIDS patients in the state belong to the 21-30 age group, the government has decided to establish Red Ribbon Clubs to safeguard People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and curb the menace," said an official source.
The launch of the first such club Aug 22 by the Madhya Pradesh AIDS Control Society (MPSACS) in partnership with the National Service Scheme (NSS) and UNICEF is a first step in that direction, the official added.
The red ribbon is the global symbol created in 1991 by Visual Aids in New York that stands for solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS. It is aimed at uniting the people in the common fight against the disease.
"These clubs will go a long way in preventing the killer disease from assuming epidemic proportions since information is the key to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Anil Gulati, UNICEF communication officer for the state.
"We need to involve young people who can act as agents of change and help spread awareness on the issue," he added.
Said Salina Singh, the MPSACS project director: "Similar Clubs would be a reality in all schools and colleges so that students can help spread awareness about the disease and its prevention."
As many as 500 NSS cadets administered oath as members of the club would be trained to act as peer counsellors. The cadets would then form similar clubs in their respective colleges.