Manipur Health and Family Welfare Dr Sapam Ranjan Singh has stressed the need to increase HIV testing in the state, and sought support, cooperation and suggestion from all stakeholders and NGOs for early detection of HIV among the people to achieve HIV elimination by 2030.
The minister was speaking as chief guest at a World AIDS Day 2022 programme in Imphal held under the theme Equalize on Thursday.
The programme was organised by the Transgender Health and Wellness Centre Social Awareness and Service Organization under the sponsorship of Progressive and Transmission of HIV and AIDS (PATH), Centre for Disease Control and Programme (CDC) and Manipur AIDS Control Society (MACS).
Considering early detection and intervention as the best way to control HIV and AIDS, the state government has decided to include HIV testing in the list of Chief Minister’s Health for Scheme, a door-to-door health screening service programme, Ranjan said.
Gripped by the fear of stigma and discrimination, many people hesitate to test for HIV and some try to hide their status even after knowing it.
Until and unless all people living with HIV are detected and provided adequate treatment, spreading of HIV will not stop. As such, there is a need for coordination from every stakeholder, concerned authority and NGOs to beat this challenge, he added.
Encouraging the transgender community, Ranjan said they should refrain from self-stigma first and feel proud and accept who they are with courage. They should avoid any kind of derogatory comment if anyone passes upon them as all such instances would demoralise them.
Stigma and discrimination against transgender community has been reduced to a great extent comparing to some years ago, he said, adding that there is an expectation that all such misconception against the said community will no longer exist after some time.
While assuring to extend possible support for welfare of transgender community, he said that the door is always open to discuss about the issue and problem confronting this community.
The state government will also look into the matter about difficulties faced by transgender community in availing government schemes like Prime Minister Jan Aarogya Yojana, MGNREGS etc.
Presenting his keynote address, secretary of SASO, RK Tiken said that they have been taking up initiative to identify the HIV status of transgender community. Though they are regarded as vulnerable group to HIV and AIDS but due to fear of social discrimination, they usually try to hide their status, he said.
This Transgender Health and Wellness Centre gave a platform to share their problem and grievances amongst the community that really help to support each other, he added.
He said that SASO has been saving numerous lives from drug overdose. However, the overdose rescue team of SASO sometimes faces problems while going to rescue overdose patients. To prevent obstruction or hindrance, the state government issued identity cards for overdose rescue teams.
Other dignitaries present at the function are medical superintendent of JNIMS, Manipur, Dr Lokeshwar Singh; deputy commissioner of Imphal East, Khumanthem Diana Devi; joint director of TI, MACS, Abhiram Mongjam and deputy country director India, regional deputy director Asia, CDC, Brian Kolodziejski as president and guests of honour respectively.