International AIDS Candlelight Memorial held Speaker bats with House Forum
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 20 2012: The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day was observed today at Lamyanba Shanglen, Palace Compound and Manipur Dramatic union hall, Yaiskul Police Lane under the aegis of different organisations.

As chief guest of the Lamyanba Shanglen observance, Manipur Legislative Assembly Speaker Th Lokeshwar Singh assured that 'Manipur Legislative Assembly Forum on AIDS will do whatever it can to fulfil the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS' .

Pledging support of the Forum in fighting stigma and discrimination, he also commended the leading role by the people affected with HIV and drug users in ensuring the rights of the affected people as well as reduce the spread of HIV in the State.

Former Deputy Director of Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS) and MLA Dr I Ibohalbi, who also addressed the gathering at the observance function drew the attention of the MACS Project Director to ensure expeditious revision of the State AIDS Policy asserting that policies are a must for tackling issues like HIV/AIDS .

Speaker Th Lokeshwar at the candle light function
Speaker Th Lokeshwar at the candle light function

"The draft State AIDS policy needs to be tabled at the earliest and discussed threadbare so that our response to the epidemic is in tune with the needs of the community," said the MLA who also stressed on the need for bridging the gap between NGOs implementing HIV related programmes and MACS.

Commenting on the observance, MACS Project Director Dr Sailesh Kumar Chourasia expressed that such solemn event provides all concerned an opportunity to reassess not only the achievement but also to chart out a course to sustain the effort.

Different departments need to come together for effective implementation of relevant programmes and to tackle the issue at hand in a holistic manner, he added.

Functionaries of various NGOS also elaborated on the significance of the observance with a fervent appeal to every section of the society to combat HIV/AIDS in a more effective way.

Results of the competition held earlier on May 18 were also declared and prizes distributed during the function held at Lamyanba Shanglen today.

Towards promoting health and dignity, particularly for people living with HIV and AIDS and other communities, volunteers will campaign for improving service access, prevent rights violation and reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS, people who inject drugs, sex workers, nupi manbi and other vulnerable communities.

The Yaiskul Police Lane observance organised by Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+) was held on the theme 'Promoting Health and Dignity together' and was marked by the observation of two minutes silence in memory of those who passed away due to HIV/AIDS infection and release of fact-sheet on HIV and drug use developed under the CHPCSS and prison projects.

Superintendent of Police, Manipur Central Jail (Sajiwa) IK Muivah graced the event as the chief guest.

While advocating healthy lifestyle for a respectful living and longevity, Muivah also prevailed upon all concerned to contribute their mite for the health and welfare of the HIV/AIDS infected people.

With reference of MACS record of nearly 12,700 people undertaking ART treatment out of about 21,225 individuals living with HIV/AIDS, he said the Central Jail Sajiwa has a total of 670 inmates with HIV positive status.

Appreciating endeavours of MACS, MNP+ and volunteers of various NGOs working in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention for regularly conducting awareness programmes and ways to live a healthy lifestyle to the infected inmates, the SP asserted that he would intimate higher authorities for enhancing assistance to these inmates.

It also informed that candles were lit at 16 market places in Imphal East and West districts, Bishnupur and Thoubal districts.

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

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2012 is being jointly organised by sixteen organisations namely 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) .

Meanwhile, the International Candlelight Memorial Day was observed today at Khurai Lamlong under the aegis of Universal Caring Mission (UNICAM) on the theme "Promoting Health and Dignity Together" .

Speaking on the occasion, MACS Joint Director Abhiram Mongjam stated that the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS is greater than the number of people during World Wars I and II .

Talking about the stigma and discrimination being endured by HIV infected people, UNICAM vice-president Ksh Robindro asserted that all kinds of social stigma or discrimination should be done away with for better tackling of the HIV/AIDS issue.

Later nutritional support was distributed to HIV infected people.

The International Candlelight Memorial Day was also observed by Maruploi Foundation at its Bishnupur office today.

CARE Foundation observed the 29th International AIDS Candlelight memorial Day at its head office and branch office Nambol today.

200 people including members, staff, PLHIVs, IDUs FSWs and invitees attended the observation, said a press release.

The day was also observed by MNP+ Thoubal at its hall.

The observation was held under the sponsorship of MACS.

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