Adopt `Zero new infections` approach to check HIV: Ghulam Nabi Azad

New Delhi: Encouraged by the success of HIV/ AIDS control measures which have led to reduction in new cases by half, government today said the aim would be to achieve "zero new infections" era.

Speaking at a function to mark the completion of the third phase of the "Red Ribbon Express" (RRE), one of the biggest pubicity campaigns against HIV/AIDS on a train, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said though the country has fared well in containing the virus, it should not be content with the current figures.

Calling for moving towards an AIDS-free society, Azad said there has been a 57 per cent decrease in new HIV infections, but exhorted countrymen to aim for a "zero new infection" era.

"The success India has achieved in controlling the AIDS infection, no other country has done so. In June 2011, the United Nations appreciated India`s efforts in the last decade in containing the new infections," Azad said.

"In the entire world the new infections were reduced by 20 per cent in the last decade but in India, we have managed to reduce the figures by 50 per cent. In last one and half year we have made speedy progress in this regard and this figure now stands at 57 per cent," he said.

Azad, however, said the aim should be "Zero AIDS related deaths" in the future.

The Minister said the focus of the third phase of the RRE was on youth, as the future of India belongs to them and accordingly special efforts were made for mobilising adolescents and youth during the exhibition.

"On this Youth Day I appeal to all the youth of the country to come forward. We don`t have to be content with these figures. There is still a lot to be done. Our goal should be zero deaths because of AIDS and zero stigma towards those who have been infected by this disease," he said.

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal lauded NACO and its partners for the successful campaign led through the RRE. "There is need to increase the awareness about the disease and not shun people or the company of the affected," he said.

The function, held at the Safdarjung Railway Station, was organised jointly by the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The RRE in its third phase covered 162 railway stations in 23 states and about 1.14 crore people have been reached with messages on HIV/AIDS and other health related issues, Additional Secretary National Aids Control, Aradhana Johri, said.