By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, Dec 1: Tibetans in Dharamsala today observed the World AIDS Day by spreading awareness about the deadly AIDS epidemic at an event held at the main square in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala.
The event was jointly organized by the Central Tibetan Administration’s Department of Health and Kunphen Center for substance dependence and HIV/Aids to commemorate the 28th World AIDS Day.
“We are observing the World AIDS Day because HIV/AIDS epidemic poses a major health issue for the world and its incurable. Its communicable and it has already penetrated into the exiled Tibetan community. Therefore, we are spreading the awareness about it,” Kunphen’s Director and Tibetan Parliamentarian Dawa Tsering said.
In line with the theme of the 28th World AIDS day, ‘Hands UP for HIV Prevention’, he urged the community members to undergo HIV/AIDS test and encouraged Dharamsala residents to use condom. He further urged the people to do away with sharing shaving blades and syringes and to test bloods before accepting transfusion.
“We should not outcast HIV/AIDS infected people from our community. It is not communicable by sitting, eating and communicating with them. We should embrace them as a part of our community,” Dawa Tsering concluded.
The event ended with the organizers shouting slogans in an attempt to spread awareness and prevent HIV/AIDS in the community, and to stand in solidarity with the HIV/AIDS infected people.
“Its being claimed that there are many Tibetans infected with HIV in exile. As per the records at our department, we have around 120-130 Tibetans reportedly infected with HIV,” Kapsang, from Health Department’s AIDS desk, told Tibet Express.
“The expenses incurred on the treatment for Tibetans infected with the HIV are covered by the Indian government. However, since most of them live in remote areas, we finance their travel expenses as they have to travel often to the hospitals to get their medication and for check-ups,” Kapsang said.
To mark the 28th World Aids Day, Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations has issued a special message urging people across the world to stand in solidarity with the 78 million people infected with HIV and by remembering the 35 million who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported.