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PM for building linkages between MNERGA and AIDS programme

New Delhi: Favouring that linkages be built between MNERGA and HIV/AIDS programmes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said ministries should make "HIV sensitive" policies and programmes to provide employment and succour to victims.

"Linkages should be made between HIV and AIDS programme and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme to facilitate employment of HIV positive persons," Singh said addressing the National Convention of Zila Parishad Chairpersons and Mayors on HIV & AIDS here.

The programme was organised by a forum of Parliamentarians on HIV and AIDS, which was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a host of union ministers.

Gandhi said the fact that the forum is represented by people from all parties demonstrates that "our resolve" to address issues concerning countrymen can be greater than "our committment to any political party."

The Prime Minister said the nutritional needs of HIV positive people, specially women and children should be tackled by linking them with ICDS and other developmental schemes.

"Other concerned ministries should also have an HIV sensitive policy and programme so that the marginalised populations infected and affected by HIV and AIDS are not denied the benefits of these schemes," he said.

"There is a need to ensure that there is no stigma and discrimination towards HIV infected and affected persons, the Prime Minister said, adding, "No child should be denied admission in schools and colleges because he or she is afflicted with HIV or because his or her parents are afflicted with this disease."

Noting that those belonging to the most disadvantaged sections of the soceity suffer the most, Gandhi highlighted the need for creating awareness about the disease.

The Prime Minister said, "We must ensure that no person loses his or her employment because of HIV".

He said there is a need to ensure that women are not doubly stigmatised.

He also underlined the importance of strengthening the Panchayati Raj institutions and communities supported by them in National HIV and AIDS programme to get better results.

Both the Prime Minister and Gandhi highlighted the role of civil society in HIV/AIDs control programmes.

"If health has to become a truly people`s movement for people`s benefit, civil society involvement and Panchayati Raj guided programme delivery are absolutely essential," Singh said.

Gandhi also hailed the "active civil society initiative" in the AIDS control programme.

The Prime Minister noted the AIDS control programmes have been able to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections by 50 per cent in the last 10 years.

Gandhi said, "We are beginning to turn the tide in the battle."

While hailing the success the country has achieved in containing HIV AIDS, the Prime Minister said, "There should be no room for complacency even though we have been able to show a reduction in new infections."

Noting that there are 24 lakh people estimated to be living in India with HIV/AIDS, Singh said, "There should be no let up in efforts to provide services to these HIV infected people and prevent others from getting the infection."

"We have a large population of young persons to whom we have to reach out with awareness and other prevention services. There are emerging vulnerabilities of migrants and mobile populations which are not yet fully addressed. HIV prevention services have to be scaled up for all those who are at risk."

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