Sustainable Development Goals
Parliamentarians come forward for Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing and Blood Donation
New Delhi, 5 Dec 2013:
Central Ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha came forward to voluntarily undergo Counselling and Testing for HIV in an event organized in connection with the World AIDS Day (1 December 2013). In addition, the MPs donated their blood through a mobile van of the Indian Red Cross Society. Mr B.P. Singh, Vice Chairperson, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and Mr Rohit Chaudhary, President, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) along with several youth volunteers also participated in the camp. The programme was organized by the Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV & AIDS with technical assistance from the Department of AIDS Control (DAC) under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India; and supported by UNAIDS and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Several Parliamentarians underwent the counselling and testing at Mobile ICTC (Integrated Counselling & Testing Centre) unit that was arranged by Delhi State AIDS Control Society, at the office of FPA at North Avenue in New Delhi. They later donated blood which will be used by the Indian Red Cross Society blood bank for needy patients. Addressing the MPs, Shri Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, and the President of FPA felicitated them for their commitment and support towards HIV related issues and requested their continued involvement not only at the policy level but also at their constituency levels. He urged them to provide leadership and conduct similar voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) campaigns at every village in the country.
Shri J D Seelam, Minister of State for Finance and Secretary General of FPA thanked the MPs and said elected representatives at all levels including Parliamentarians, Legislators, and members of Local Self Government (LSG), need to come together in the support of the AIDS response, if India has the dream to reach an AIDS-free generation. Mr Kalikesh Singh Deo, MP from Orissa encouraged young people to know right information on AIDS. He said that people living have equal right to live full & productive life with dignity and should not be discriminated based on HIV status.
Dr. Sunil D. Khaparde, Deputy Director General at the Department of AIDS Control (DAC) briefed the Parliamentarians about the benefits of HIV testing and blood donation and explained the safety measures taken by Government sponsored Integrated Testing and Counselling Centres (ICTCs), and approved blood banks. He informed that in addition to regular screening test required, collected blood units are tested for Hepatitis B & C, Malaria, HIV and sexually transmitted infections to ensure blood safety. The MPs also had the opportunity to be counselled by trained counsellors.
In a note sent to the FPA, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for India Mr Oussama Tawil congratulated the Forum Members and thanked them for their leadership. “I hope this bold gesture by the Parliamentarians will further promote voluntary counselling and testing for HIV throughout the country. “ – He said. The Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV and AIDS was founded almost a decade ago by few concerned Parliamentarians who resolved to act constructively to tackle the issue of HIV in India. As the impact of HIV transcends beyond health to larger socioeconomic fabric of a country, FPA since its inception involves all Members of Parliament irrespective of party affiliation.