Dharamshala: - A press conference was convened by the Department of Health during the occasion of World AIDS Day on 1 December 2012, at the Kashag Secretariat's auditorium. The Health Department also launched a documentary film on the way forward to the complete eradication of AIDS during the press conference.
"The Tibetan refugee population living in India falls under high risk categories due to high mobility, poverty and lack of access to proper healthcare facilities," said the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). According to the CTA Demographic survey of Tibetans in Exile 2009, HIV/AIDS is one of the 15 leading causes of death in the Tibetan exile community.
World AIDS Day is also an important reminder to Tibetans in exile that HIV is a serious problem facing their community today. According to a 2009 CTA official estimate, about 130 Tibetans have been infected with HIV/AIDS, of whom 60 have died.
"December 1 is being observed the world over as world AIDS Day. The Department of health, CTA, is proactively observing the day. And, I greet you all on this important day," Dr Tsering Wangchuk, the Minister of Health for the Central Tibetan Administration said in a statement, urging Tibetans to understand the disease, which has a "very long period of progression. It can take about 10-15 years before the HIV infection develops into full blown AIDS."
"Therefore, it is impossible to detect the HIV infection without HIV testing. Unprotected sexual relations, blood transfusions, syringe exchange, sharing needles for body-tattoo and being born to an infected mother are some of the ways by which the HIV virus can passed from an infected person to others," Dr Tsering Wangchuk further added.
To mark World AIDS Day 2012, a day-long awareness program also held in the Himalayan town of McLeod Ganj with the theme — Getting Zero: Zero New Infection, Zero Discrimination and Zero Aids Related Deaths. CHOICE—HIV/AIDS Initiative, along with the Students For a Free Tibet –India, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress and Regional Tibetan Women’s Association Dharamshala also organised a campaign with a large symbol banner of AIDS Day.
The Tibetan health department also released a documentary film titled, ‘Breaking the Silence towards Zero HIV Community’ on World AIDS Day.
Addresses the Media during a Press Conference at Kashag hall, the Health Secretary, Sonam Choephel Shosur, said, “HIV/AIDS is one of the major health challenges the world is facing today and it has already penetrated into the homes of the Tibetan community.
“With this film, we hope to sensitive and educate people on how we can protect ourselves from this global killer to ensure a healthier and secure community".
The film aims to create more awareness about HIV/AIDS among the Tibetan community, in tune with the official theme of the world’s AIDS Day for 2011- 2015 – ‘ Zero AIDS related Deaths’. A special screening of the film was held for the staff of the Central Tibetan Administration in the evening.
There are about 34 million people living with AIDS in the world; the World Health Organisation had stated that the number of HIV-affected people would touch 50-million mark in 2012.
In his message, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2015 are achievable. On this World AIDS Day, let us commit to build on and amplify the encouraging successes of recent years to consign HIV/AIDS to the pages of history.”
The global fight against AIDS has been encouraging over the past decade. According to a UN fact sheet, new HIV infections have dropped by 50% or more in 25 countries since 2001.
There was a global reduction in the number of newly infected individuals from 3.2 million in 2001 to 2.5 million in 2011. The numbers of AIDS-related deaths have fallen dramatically from 2.3 million in 2006 to 1.7 million in 2011.