Shun discrimination in thoughts and behaviour against HIV+ people: Vardhan

New Delhi, Dec 1 (PTI) Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday called upon citizens to shun any kind of discrimination in thoughts, actions and behaviour towards the people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

He was speaking after inaugurating an event celebrating the World AIDS Day, organised by the National AIDS Control Organization.

'Let us shun any kind of discrimination in our thoughts, actions and behaviour in our interaction with those who have HIV and AIDS. Let us do away with nomenclatures such as 'AIDS/HIV communities'. Let us not bracket people who suffer from and have survived various diseases,' Vardhan said.

Despite making progress, there are still some significant milestones that need to be achieved for making the country free of HIV/AIDS by 2030, he said.

Vardhan commended the contribution of the partner communities who have played a significant role in spreading information about the disease, to dispel misinformation, fear and apprehensions and helped people to access testing and treating services of NACO.

'You are our pillars of strength who have built bridges with the underserved, un-served and marginalised communities,' he said.

The global theme of this year's World AIDS Day is 'Communities Make A Difference'. At the event, he awarded the various Red Ribbon Clubs which have mobilised the youth and communities across the country.

More than 1,200 Red Ribbon Clubs have contributed to this collective effort, he said.

Vardhan said that during 2018-19, around 79 per cent of people living with HIV knew their HIV status, 82 per cent diagnosed with HIV infection were receiving free antiretroviral therapy and and 79 per cent were virally suppressed.

'This means we are on the right track and our continued efforts coupled with calibrated momentum shall make this target achievable. NACO has revived and revamped its conventional prevention strategies to achieve the new targets. NACO is focusing on the combination of prevention tools and methods that are needed to end the AIDS epidemic,' he said.

The minister added the programme has also given focused attention to elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV. PTI PLB AAR