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Punjab to aid Himachal have safe sex,supply condoms

Big Brother Punjab has come to the rescue of its neighbour Himachal Prad-esh and it is by the way of supplying condoms to meet its shortage in HIV risk-driven districts of the state.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
July 14, 2011 3:35:08 am

Big Brother Punjab has come to the rescue of its neighbour Himachal Prad-esh and it is by the way of supplying condoms to meet its shortage in HIV risk-driven districts of the state.

Officials in the state’s health department confirmed that Himachal Pradesh had run out of stock and there were no condoms available with the state’s AIDS Control Society for past some months.

Since the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has banned buying of condoms from the open market under the AIDS control programme,the state approached Punjab,which happily obliged Himachal. “We were facing shortage of condoms meant for free distribution. We kept asking NACO to rush the supplies but as it did not happen,we asked Punjab for help. Nearly 5 lakh condoms have come from Punjab,which we have promised to return when Himachal gets its quota,” Health Minister Rajeev Bindal said. Only last month,Bindal had himself visited Delhi in connection with a seminar on AIDS control and taken up the issue with the Union health ministry officials. He had also asked the Centre to start a pension scheme for AIDS patients.

“Himachal Pradesh’s drive to check AIDS has proved successful as there is a significant decline from 2.4 per cent to 0.8 per cent in the HIV+ infected rate,” Says a senior official said.

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The condoms are distributed free through HIV counseling centers,NGOs,voluntary health organisations,mahila mandals,panchayats and petrol pumps. Sulab Sauchlayas are also stocked with condoms in Shimla.

Himachal Pradesh has many risk categories like taxi and truck drivers and also college students. There is a high demand for condoms at tourists towns like Shimla,Manali,Dalhousie,Dharamshala,Khajjiar and Kasuali. There are around 5,198 HIV positive cases in Himachal,of which 1,401 were AIDS patients.

Lahaul-Spiti,the largest district by area but also one with the least population,had not reported any HIV or AIDS till date,Bindal said.

The government had spent Rs 1 crore in 2010-11 on welfare of AIDS patients which included providing travelling allowance to 660 persons along with attendants for availing treatment.

Three 10-bedded Community Health Centres had been opened for HIV/AIDS patients and the government is considering providing employment to AIDS patients under MNREGA. Twelve patients had been provided government employment and the state was planning to bring them under the BPL category so that they can benefit from it,Bindal said.

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