Three chief ministers have advocated higher awareness of AIDS in rural areas and among school children even as it emerged that some of the northeastern states still have higher adult HIV and AIDS prevalence rates than the national average.
At the North East Regional Consultation on HIV/AIDS organised by Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS in Guwahati on Friday evening. It was attended by the chief ministers of Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.
"The perception towards the disease and patients has changed over the years, but there are miles to go... I remember how even doctors used to be reluctant to touch HIV patients," said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in his inaugural speech.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma appealed to all his legislators to conduct an awareness programme in each constituency every year to educate people about the disease.
"We should go to the rural areas and talk to the people so that they know the reality of the disease," said Sangma. He also urged his legislators to give Rs.1 lakh each in this regard. Sangma also advocated for introducing the HIV/ AIDS in school syllabus in his state.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) records, the adult HIV and AIDS prevalence rates in Manipur and Nagaland in the northeast region are 1.57 percent and 1.2 per cent respectively-which is well above the national average of 0.34 per cent.
It is also estimated that there are some 100,000 people, who live with HIV and AIDS in the eight north eastern states.