Kashmir, which is controlled by India in the south and Pakistan in the north, faces many unique challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS, IANS/DailyIndia.com reports. According to IANS/DailyIndia.com, there are 745 reported HIV cases in Kashmir; however, unofficial estimates put the number at 25,000.
The influx of migrant workers, security personnel, truck drivers and tourists into Kashmir - in addition to the region’s “difficult” terrain, commercial sex industry, low literacy rate and sociocultural diversity - have made fighting HIV/AIDS difficult, IANS/DailyIndia.com reports.
“Considering the peculiar factors and present circumstances, the state is uniquely positioned and spreading awareness about the virus is a greater challenge,” M.A. Wani, project director of the Jammu and Kashmir State AIDS Prevention and Control Society, said, adding, “Since several languages and dialects are spoken in the state - Kashmiri, Urdu, Dogri, Punjabi, Ladakhi, Pahari and Gujjari - it’s even more challenging to accomplish minor tasks like developing video films, songs and posters.”
To reduce stigma surrounding the disease, JKSAPCS has “roped in religious leaders,” such as Muslim imams and Sikh granthis, to educate people about the disease.
The program has been implemented in six districts in Kashmir, and about 400 imams have been trained.
In addition, awareness programs and seminars have been held for about 600 imams in the state.
JKSAPCS is organizing talks with Christian priests to involve them in the campaign (IANS/DailyIndia.com, 9/18).
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD