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2005-05-01-Indian Government Agree To Combat HIV/AIDS Among Country's Military
The Indian government and UNAIDS on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement that aims to curb the spread of HIV among the country's military personnel,... AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/28).
Under the agreement, UNAIDS will work with India's National AIDS Control Organization, Ministry of Defence and the National Cadet Corps to design and implement a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention program among the military, according to Ulf Kristoffersson, director of the UNAIDS Office on AIDS, Security and Humanitarian Response (Press Trust of India, 4/28).
The program will include awareness initiatives, peer education training and the integration of curricula on sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, into the country's military schools. The program also will help improve the capabilities of military health professionals to provide HIV-positive people with quality health care and support, according to a UNAIDS release. India has approximately 1.3 million active members in its military and about 535,000 people in the military reserves. Military service members are "particularly vulnerable" to HIV for many reasons, including their young age, according to the release (UNAIDS release, 4/28).
Last week, Director-General of the Assam Rifles Bhopinder Singh said that more soldiers die of AIDS-related causes than as a result of warfare in the country's northeast region and that the number of HIV infections among India's military personnel are assuming "serious dimensions." Kristoffersson said, "India's commitment to confronting the epidemic at an early stage, focusing on prevention and education of young men and women in uniform, should stand as a lesson for militaries and governments in the region and elsewhere" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/28).