Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) on Monday during a re-orientation workshop of Red Ribbon Club (RRC) Coordinators and Members of colleges in Kamrup (M) and Kamrup districts has claimed that Assam is an HIV-vulnerable state and youth are vulnerable to HIV, thus, they need to remain aware about HIV prevention especially the routes of HIV transmission.
The objective of the re-orientation workshop was to create awareness on HIV, injecting drugs and voluntary blood donation.
Addressing the gathering at the re-orientation workshop here at the Assam Administrative Staff College, Guwahati, ASACS project director Pomi Baruah said, “There is an estimated 26,000 injecting drug users in the state which are aiding in the rise of HIV-positive cases in the state. Therefore, awareness and abstinence from high-risk behaviour are the only ways of HIV prevention.”
Exhorting the Red Ribbon Clubs for carrying out awareness on HIV, drugs and voluntary blood donation, Baruah said, “It is heartening to see that Red Ribbon Clubs of colleges have been conducting various awareness activities in the form of quiz competitions, debate competitions, poster making competitions, reel and film making competitions and even organizing blood donation camp at colleges.”
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Dr Ranjan Kakati, Director, Students’ Welfare, Gauhati University,said, “ HIV is a threat to the society due to lack of adequate knowledge especially amongst the youth,” adding, “ there are 46000 NSS volunteers across the state and these NSS volunteers can spread HIV awareness in their respective institutions.
He further said that drugs and alcohol consumption are also on the rise amongst the youth and this has happened because there is a lack of soft skill training and proper counselling. Kakati further advocated for preparation of an agenda for conducting HIV and drug awareness activities for the entire year.
Nukul Deori, NNS Youth Officer, NE,while highlighting on the activities of NSS said, “ The moto of NSS is ‘not me, but you’ and this means that whatever we gain, we should give back to the society. Our students are the main beneficiaries and NSS is a platform through which all kinds of youth-related awareness messages can be disseminated.” He also appealed to the private educational institutions to join NSS as self-financed NSS units.
Sr Finance & Accounts Officer, Sanjib Kalita, AFS, while appreciating the good works done by the RRCs said, “ While we were in colleges there were no such entities like Red Ribbon Clubs but today the students of the colleges have an added advantage of knowing about HIV through Red Ribbon Clubs in their respective colleges.” He also urged the colleges to work more actively and vibrantly for HIV awareness.
Prof Arup Dutta, Coordinator of RRC of Dimoria College urged for an integrated data base for voluntary blood donors for from colleges and other educational institutions. He also said that during the events like World AIDS Day, National Voluntary Blood Donation Day the colleges normally have exams and therefore, the students cannot take part in the events and in this regard, he urged the GU authorities to see if the examination schedules can be altered so that they don’t’ clash with these important events.
The workshop continued with technical sessions conducted by the experts which included knowing the basics of HIV, the current HIV scenario in the state, high risk behaviour amongst youth, roles and responsibilities of Red Ribbon Clubs and the way forward.
It may be mentioned that Red Ribbon Clubs (RRC) are voluntary on-campus intervention program for students in educational institutions. It is a movement started by the Govt of India in educational institutions through which students will spread awareness on HIV/AIDS. It is initiated and supported by the State AIDS Control Societies and implemented through multi-sectoral collaboration, particularly, using the services of cadre officers of the State’s National Service Scheme (NSS). At present in Assam, there are 246 Red Ribbon Clubs (RRC) across the state.