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New Delhi December 12: Mr. Lov Verma, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control inaugurated the first International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sensitive Social Protection, here today. The conference is being organised by the Department of AIDS Control (DAC), Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Speaking at the function, Mr. Lov Verma, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control said: “Mainstreaming and social protection will continue to be a strategic priority as we embark on the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme. The programme has a multi-pronged strategy that includes: advocacy, strong leadership, multi-sectored collaboration, responsive policy and supportive legal environment and continued expansion of services for underserved population.” He also said that India is a “global success story” as a result of having brought down prevalence rates.

December being the month of World AIDS Day, this year’s goal is “zero discrimination”, said Mr. Oussama Tawil, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, India. In India we have achieved significant milestones of community involvement; however, obstacles such as supportive legislative amendments continue to hinder the process of development, he said. Ms. Alka Narang, Assistant Country Director UNDP, India said that the conference is a turning point, and one that reiterates India’s position on the issue, India being quite the leader in the area of HIV/AIDS and Social Protection. ‘Social Protection is crucial for everyone and in particular for people living with HIV. In the early 2000s, when we were still grappling with the most basic issues in HIV/AIDS, those of us working in the sector never imagined that we would ever reach a stage when we could talk about mainstreaming, and social protection in the context of HIV/AIDS, and we can proudly say that we have actually arrived at that juncture’, stated Ms. Narang.

More than 200 participants from all sectors were present during the inaugural session. Participants have come from Djibouti in Somalia, Algeria, Dominican Republic, and Egypt. Presentations for the day included those by Mr. Brian Lutz, Policy Expert, AIDS and MDGs, UNDP (New York), who defined the scope of social protection, and Dr Mahipal, Director (P and P), Department of Rural Development who spoke about schemes in the rural context addressing HIV/AIDS and Social Protection. Sh K K Abraham, of the Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, and Ms. Pushpalata R, Secretary, Swasthi Mahila Sangh spoke on the issue of stigma and discrimination.

Representatives from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia made presentations on the manner in which they have been working towards HIV sensitive social protection in their respective countries.

The recommendations of the conference will be documented and presented during the valedictory session. CCI Newswire

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