A workshop held recently in Chennai has brought out the wide spread ignorance of the general public regarding modes of HIV transmission to the spotlight. A one-day workshop was organized by the Chennai branch of Family Planning Association of India to create awareness regarding the prevalence and spread of HIV.
Multipurpose Health Workers (MPHWs) working in the Urban Health Posts (UHPs) of Vadapalani and Saidapet Zones of the Chennai Corporation were amongst the participants. The programme was also attended by Ranjini Murugan, FPAI branch president; Vathsala Narayanaswamy, FPAI member and Banumathi, Zonal Medical Officer of Vadapalani Zone.
Among healthcare providers who attended the study, nearly 30% had a misconception that AIDS would spread by casual contact such as hugging a patient. The workshop revealed that they were not even completely aware of modes of transmission of the HIV virus. Furthermore, most of the participants had a general notion that needles were shared only for injecting drugs. They were ignorant about the use of needles for tattooing, steroid injections or ear piercing.
The participants were provided adequate knowledge regarding the modes of transmission of the deadly virus. Adolescents were categorized into the high-risk group for contraction of the virus than adults. The health care workers were told that the presence of sexually transmitted infection would increase the risk of transmission of HIV and were warned regarding the need for safe sexual practices.
Messages to the youth advocating avoiding of premarital sex and sex with multiple partners formed a vital part of the awareness campaign. Various aspects of HIV prevention were underlined by Gunasekaran, Deputy Director (STD), Chennai Corporation, while dealing with `Introduction of HIV/AIDS and Situation Analysis of India.'
A detailed discussion was held on 'Management of HIV/AIDS and Infection Prevention & STIs,' by K.Kantharaj, former Deputy Director, TANSACS. Shanthi, a tutor in Department of Clinical Psychology, Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Chennai, focused on counselling aspects of HIV/AIDS.