AIDS memorial candle lit statewide as total number of PLHIVs reaches 40820
Speaker promises unstinted support from Manipur Legislator's Forum on HIV & AIDS

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, May 20 2012: The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day, 2012 was observed throughout the state with almost all NGOs and CSOs working in the field of HIV & AIDS coming out to pay homage to People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIVs) who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS.

According to the latest report received from MACS, the number of HIV positive people as of March, 2012 has reached 40820.Out of these, 29834 are males and 10986 are females where 2718 are children.

The theme of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2012 is promoting 'dignity and health together', reinforcing the urgent need to protect rights of marginalised populations to prevent HIV & AIDS.

Sixteen civil society organisations, human rights groups, lawyers, drug users, nupi manbi and positive networks and NGOs in the state came together for the first time and observed the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2012 today at Lamyanba Sanglen, Imphal, today.

They included All Manipur Anti Drug Association (AMADA), Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE), Human Rights Alert (HRA), Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), All Manipur Bar Association (AMBA), Kuki Women Union (KWU), Kripa Society, Care Foundation, Lifeline Foundation, Dedicated People's Union (DPU), Manipur Cycle Club (MCC), Coalition Against Drug Abuse and Alcoholism (CADA), Christian Network of Positive Women of Manipur (CNPWM), All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association (AMANA), Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII) .

The observation actually kicked off on May 18, 2012 with a painting competition for children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and would continue it as a year-long state-level campaign for solidarity in fighting the epidemic.

Speaking on the occasion as Chief Guest, Th.Lokeshwar, Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly, who is also the Chairman of Manipur Legislators Forum on HIV & AIDS, assured that Forum would do whatever it can to fulfill the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Speaker also assured the community of the support of the Manipur Legislators Forum on AIDS in fighting stigma and discrimination and ensuring that marginal communities are mainstreamed.

He commended the role played by the people affected by HIV and drug users in leading the struggle to ensure rights and reduce spread of HIV epidemic.

Drawing attention of the Project Director, MACS, to the unfinished task of revising the State AIDS Policy, MLA Dr I Ibohalbi, who presided over the function, said that policies are a must for tackling issues like HIV and AIDS.

The draft State AIDS policy needs to be tabled at the earliest and discussed so that our response to the epidemic is in tune with needs of the community.

"We need commitment and the gap between NGOs implementing HIV related programmes and MACS has to be bridged so that the needs of vulnerable communities are addressed", he added.

Dr.Sailesh Kumar Chourasia, Project Director, MACS, who was also present on the occasion as one of the Guests of Honour, said that this observation gives us an opportunity to look at what we have achieved so far and more importantly chart a course to sustain the effort.

Different departments need to come together if we want to respond to the epidemic in a holistic manner.

Dr RK Lenin, Associate Prof, Psychiatric Department, RIMS was also present as one of the Guest of Honour at the function.

Candles were lit at 16 market places in Imphal East and West, Bishnupur and Thoubal districts.

In coordination with the All Manipur Christian Organisation (AMCO) candlelight prayers were also held in a number of churches.

Results of the competition held on May 18.2012 were declared and prizes distributed during the function held at Lamyanba Sanglen today.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day, 2012 was also observed at MDU Hall here today.

Organized by MNP+ under the sponsorship of MACS, the function was graced by IK Muivah, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Manipur Central Jail/ Central Jail Sajiwa; Dr Sailesh Kumar Chourasia, Project Director, MACS and Udita Salam, General Secretary, MNP+ as Chief Guest, Guest of Honour and President respectively.

The function was marked by offering of floral tributes and candlelight attribution in memory of the departed souls.

SASO also observed the 29th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day, 2012 at Mini Shanker Hall today.

The function was graced by Dr Y Gopalkrishna, Deputy Director (CST), MACS; H Dineshwor, Ex-President, SASO and N Ingocha, Officer in Charge, Lamphel Police Station as Chief Guest, President and Guest of Honour respectively.

Y Shasikumar, General Secretary, SASO delivered the key note address on the occasion.

Testimonial sharing by PLHIVs, MSMs and CLHIVs, and offering of floral tributes marked the occasion.

On the other hand, the observation was also held under the joint aegis of Manipur Voluntary Health Association (MVHA) and Centre for Socio Economic Development at the office of MVHA at Ningthem Pukhri Mapal today.

The function was attended by M Binodkumar, Vice President of Maharaj Garibniwaj Memorial Club and Kh Achou, President of MVHA as Chief Guest and President respectively.

The Nirvana Foundation, South Babupara Imphal also observed the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day at Sangeet Kala Sangam Hall, Khurai Lamlong Bazaar today.

The Kripa Foundation observed the occasion at its office at Sagolband Meino Leirak.

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