The highlight of the AIDS awareness program, scheduled to take place in New Delhi next week would be rock band performances and plays. The awareness programme would be targeted spreading awareness about increased susceptibility of the disease, particularly among young women.
The campaign, 'Commitment to Protect the Young and Vulnerable', beginning Tuesday, is being addressed by UN experts. It will take the help of music bands like Euphoria and a band from Mizoram's state capital Aizawl, Champuii, to create awareness about the disease among the age group 15-29.
'We look at it as an advocacy tool using the popular format of music to draw the attention of policymakers at both the national and state levels,' said Alankar Malviya, an official of CHARCA, a joint UN project on women's vulnerability to AIDS.
India has over five million AIDS/HIV infected people, including over two million women. So far 21 million people have succumbed to AIDS worldwide, of which around nine million were women and over four million were children.
'It is clear that by dedicating the International Women's Day (March 8) to the issue of reducing women's growing susceptibility to the disease, we recognise the enormity of it,' Malviya told IANS.
'A lot of our women are testing HIV positive and awareness has to be heightened among them,' added Malviya, project coordinator of CHARCA (Coordinated HIV/AIDS Response through Capacity building and Awareness).
Champuii, comprising volunteers of CHARCA working for AIDS awareness, has used music successfully to wean away young men and women from drugs.
Plays and skits will also be used as a medium and peer educators roped in to spread awareness about AIDS in rural areas.
CHARCA has been conducting activities in different colleges of Delhi to involve the students and create a personal stake in the issue.
The campaign would be hosted jointly by CHARCA, UNIFEM, UNAIDS in partnership with ministry of women and child development and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
'Around 96 percent women in Aizawl and 93 percent women in Kanpur harbour misconceptions on how AIDS spreads,' said Denis Broun, country coordinator UNAIDS.
'The need of the hour is to reach out to young women living in extremely difficult and marginal circumstances.'
CHARCA is planning similar activities in Udaipur, Rajasthan, and in Bellary, Karnataka.