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AIDS leaders from the United Kingdom and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) met here today to help the state government chalk out a detailed strategy to fight the deadly disease fast taking Bihar in its grip. They were unanimous in their opinions that the state government should better administer a “social vaccine” in all the 534 blocks in 243 Assembly constituencies in the state, instead of only supplying a new vaccine that, they felt, would do not good.
The leaders want the masses to learn “responsible sexual behaviour” and methods to protect themselves from the deadly menace. A special programme for the affected families and a library or demonstration centre in Patna have been planned. Efforts are also being made to launch a knowledge exchange centre in the affected areas.
Asking the state leadership to “move from speeches/seminars to the actions on the ground,” Dr Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS and undersecretary general of United Nations, said: “We need a social vaccine.” He sought for a sustained political commitment, greater support from development partners and continued participation of elected representatives in strengthening a decentralised response to the HIV epidemic.
The latest study showed that Bihar is vulnerable to AIDS due to high poverty, lack of awareness among the masses about the disease and heavy migration of people to the AIDS-affected regions for better livelihood, he said. As per an official report, nine of the total 38 districts in Bihar are badly affected with AIDS virus. India is estimated to have 5.7 million HIV-positive people, the second most in the world after South Africa.

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