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20march20103Dharamshala: CHOICE HIV/AIDS Initiative, since its inception in April 2007, had conducted over 11O workshops in various Tibetan settlements and dwellings including Tibetan refugee camps, schools, colleges, Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs), monasteries, nunneries, sweater sellers, hospitals, CTA staff, SFF army personnel and the PLHA (People living with HIV/AIDS).

In recent years, CHOICE had also launched networking and caring of PLHA in various Tibetan settlements. It has successfully created networks of PLHA in Bylakuppe last year and Mundgod this year. These networks are supported and coordinated by the regional hospital administrators, nurses, staff and the CHOICE members.

At present CHOICE have over 45 HIV+ patients under its care and network. Some are provided stipends, medical care and guidance, support in admission of children of PLHA in residential schools and also finding sponsors etc. It also endeavors to find sponsors and financial supports to all the poor and needy PLHA by launching a project, "Adopt an HIV Family" (families affected by HIV/AIDS).

In addition, it also aims to provide further training on HIV/AIDS to various nurses and social activists through reputed Indian Institutions on HIV/AIDS. Beginning 11th of this month, CHOICE conducted its first ever comprehensive 9 daylong workshop/training/networking and caring of PLHA in Mundgod Tibetan Settlement.

The present workshop was hosted, arranged and coordinated by the Doeguling Welfare Officer Mr. Palden Dondup and Administrator Mr. Penpa Labrang of DTR Hospital. The resource persons and the trainers conducting the entire workshop included CHOICE Project Officer Mr. Phuntsok Chomphel, HIV+ patient and activist Mr. Norbu Damdul, CHOICE Board member and former TYC Vice President Mr. Lobsang Yeshi, DTR Hospital Administrator Mr. Penpa Labrang and nurse Ms. Dondup Tsomo.

The present workshop was comprehensive in the sense that CHOICE conducted over 18 workshops on HIV/AIDS in the entire 9 camps, 3 school/hostels, nurses, monasteries and PLHA. At the same time, training/orientation on HIV testing with the latest one minute HIV testing INSTI kit to nurses from Hunsur, Kollegal, Bylakuppe and Mundgod was also conducted.

Meeting and creating a network of PLHA was carried out successfully with several HIV patients and their families being taken under CHOICE care, withcases for admission of PLHA children in residential schools and finding sponsors for the same also undertaken. Besides several camps, HIV Testing was also carried out amongst nurses, Representative office staff, volunteers and PLHA family members. Several new HIV cases were also revealed among the PLHA families.

The present workshop received overwhelming appreciation and feedback from the participants, the PLHA as well as local collaborating organizers. CHOICE also received numerous suggestions on hosting follow up workshops in the settlement in the near future.

CHOICE extends its gratitude and appreciation to the Representative Mr. Palden Dondup and Administrator Mr. Penpa Labrang of DTR Hospital of Doeguling Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod for the support and hosting of this successful workshop.

We also acknowledge the all-round support being provided by the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Dept of Health, CTA especially Health Minister Chope Paljor Tsering. We also appeal for the support of our Tibetan brothers in New York for the success of our fundraising event there tonight. CHOICE's next comprehensive workshop will be organized in Mainpat Tibetan settlement in the coming months.

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