MUMBAI: On a mission to eradicate the stigma associated with HIV tests, the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) has set up free screening camps on busy railway stations across the city, from December 1-10. Railway stations are among public places that witness maximum footfall, the society claims.
Commuters can now get themselves tested for Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) at the main railway stations of the city, and these tests will help people ascertain whether they are HIV-positive so that they can begin treatment on time.
The HIV AIDS awareness campaign with free blood testing began from December 1 and will continue upto December 10 between 2 pm to 8 pm. For this MDACS has mobilized around 13 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The stations where these testing facilities are available are Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Kurla, Dadar, Andheri, Borivali, Bandra, among others.
In 2018, MDACS had conducted a similar programme from December 3-5. Around 12,000 people were tested for HIV, of whom 88 were found HIV positive and they were referred to government-run ART centres for further treatment.
However, experts have admitted that the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS is still high, preventing people from getting themselves tested, which leads to a delay in treatment.
Dr Shrikala Acharya, Additional Project Director, MDACS, said, “We have mobilized various NGOs across the city to spread the awareness regarding HIV AIDS.”
Mangesh Manjrekar, the project director of Hamsaya Welfare Sanstha, one of the NGOs mobilised at Bandra station, said, “It is important to get tested, if people get tested on time, they will get diagnosed in time which will speed up their treatment. Through such tests, they will become aware of the disease and can also get their spouse tested and get medical help at the earliest. The HIV test results are given to the volunteers in 10-15 mins after giving the blood for testing.”
A member of Hamsaya Welfare Sanstha, Abdul Saqeeb, said, “Through this camp, we are spreading awareness and we are getting people tested which is very important, people are not aware of these things and have no knowledge about it. If they do this test then they become aware of themselves and if they test positive they can get medical help sooner.”
“If they test positive, our organization helps them to get free treatment at nearby hospitals and also makes them understand how they can stop the spread of this disease,” he added.
Rahul Patak, one of the commuters who came ahead to get himself tested said, “Such awareness camps are important and are needed for the citizens to educate themselves regarding this disease.”
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