Unaddressed Opportunity: Public Image of HIV/AIDS Victims

21st Feb 2008
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Here is one issue that needs substantial help — stigma placed upon those individuals infected with HIV/AIDS in India and the creation of a media and education campaign to help dispel such discrimination.

On Sify today, an article highlights that the Health Ministry is contemplating the appointment of a “health ombudsperson in all its districts to curb the growing discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients.” The goal of such an official is to leverage the resources of the state and listen to complaints in every district and call for audits.

Anand Grover, Director of the Lawyers Collective (HIV/AIDS Unit) said, “[t]his will help people get justice without going to a court and it would be a podium for speedy disposal of cases of such nature.” There would also be means for individuals to directly address the court, which would then call upon the obudsperson to formally conduct an investigation.

While this is no doubt an admirable effort to assist those afflicted by this horrible disease, I cannot help but ask is it enough? One thing that immediately comes to mind is how will people become aware of this opportunity? How can the private sector help spread the word? What sort of marketing and public awareness efforts must be coordinated now to ensure that every individual in need of the ombudsperson’s assistance not only knows about it but also has the means and knowledge to articulate their case?

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