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Aids-Tibet-2013Dharamshala: – Every year on December 1st, Tibetans join the global community in commemorating World AIDS Day to unite in a struggle against the HIV/AIDS virus.

This year's celebration was particularly relevant for Tibetans. Dr Tsering Wangchuk of Health Kalon reports that while the Tibetan community in India "has recorded 13 HIV positive cases in 2012, the actual number of people who are HIV positive in our Tibetan community is believed to be much higher."

Dr Wangchuk's statement further notes the Tibet Autonomous Region itself has reported over 300 cases of HIV/AIDS.

He attributes this high number to a variety of causes, including the "Beijing government's lackluster approach towards the HIV/AIDS problem, poor healthcare infrastructure in Tibet, presence of large number of China's HIV/AIDS victims and a large flow of Chinese tourists in Tibet through the Gormo-Lhasa Railway since 2006." Global health estimates approximate 35 million people live with the virus worldwide.

Health Kalon supports the World AIDS Day aim of "Getting to Zero" – "zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths." This includes support of the department of health's education and awareness campaigns ongoing throughout India.

These programs include the promotion of condom use to prevent the virus' transmission, HIV testing, and support for those living with the virus.

Tibetans, like anyone else, can contract HIV. Early diagnosis is important in ensuring effective treatment. Dr Wangchuk emphasizes that modern treatments for HIV/AIDS allow individuals with the virus to live long and productive lives.

He further notes, "We need to treat people living with HIV with respect and empathy. We should not discriminate against them and we need to stop stigmatization. You could have the virus! It is very important for everyone to know his or her HIV status by testing for HIV."