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Art in focus in AIDS fight

May 16, 2007 11:02 IST

In an attempt to create awareness about AIDS and HIV in rural areas where media cannot reach, the Public Affairs Office of the US Consulate General, Kolkata, would make use of scroll-painters to demonstrate HIV interventions.

Scroll-painters are artists whose paintings, depicting a story, could be scrolled on.

At a press conference on Monday, US consul general in Kolkata Henry V Jardine announced the new initiatives by the consulate for the UNESCO-funded Make Arts/Stop Aids (MASA) initiative that has chosen arts-based HIV interventions for its projects.

The project in Kolkata on creating AIDS/HIV awareness would involve local as well as outstation representatives from Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Manipur and Madhya Pradesh.

"The US president Bush's emergency plan for AIDS, a 5-year, $15billion, multifaceted approach to combating the disease in more than 120 countries, is reason enough for us to further build wider and deeper awareness of HIV and AIDS in record time," Jardine said.

Upcoming programmes include workshops in July this year to mark the completion of the US United Negro College Special Fund provided to Women's Studies Research Centre, Calcutta University, for a study of children who are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

The workshop would include discussions on HIV/AIDS policy formulation for educational institutions with delegates from the US and several African countries. The US government has so far handed over grants to the NGO Sonata Foundation to train 'baul' singers of Santiniketan to include HIV/AIDS songs in their repertoires.

The Eastern Railways too stepped in to facilitate the program by providing free passage to these singers so that they could get the attention of daily commuters. 

"Workplace policies to protect employees is another area of concern. The US Embassy has a workplace policy that protects those who might be HIV positive or have AIDS. We have shared this policy with several organisations, such as chambers of commerce like Confederation of Indian Industry and the Indian Chamber, and with large units such as Mecon and the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute in Ranchi," Jardine added.
BS Reporter in Kolkata