Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Barbers to educate people on AIDS

Patna, June 4 reports : Barbers in Bihar will henceforth not only trim hair, but also educate people on AIDS and double up as condom-vending stores.

At least 15,000 barbers would be recruited across the state by the Bihar Aids Society to educate people on the dangers posed by the disease and safe sex.

The joint director of the AIDS Society, Vishal Singh, said in Patna that barbers' services would be useful as they have access to all strata of society. ''They can teach people that AIDS is not a communicable disease and that patients should not be treated as untouchables.''

They can tell people of the benefits of practising safe sex by using condoms which are being provided free of cost by the Centre and state government agencies. Their shops will also sell the contraceptives.

Besides the salons, condoms will also be available in beauty parlours, massage parlours and other outlets which have mushroomed.

He said the Society through its 19,835 distribution centres distributed about 1.5 crore condoms provided by the Centre and the state government. Singh said that anti-AIDS programme would be launched in 13 distrcits of the state -- Banka, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Begusraai, Araria, East Champaran, Katihar, Purnea, Lakhisarai, Munger, Rohtas, Madhubani and Patna.

For the implementation of the scheme the state government has appointed a select committee.

The Society has also planned to start a programme soon to educate people on the use of condoms and safe sex, he said. According to it, the number of AIDS patients in Bihar is 2,500 at present and the number of people afflicted by HIV is 17,133.

Singh said Patna district accounted for the largest number of HIV afflicted-patients at 4,551 followed by Muzzafarpur and Madhubani at 1,558 and 644 respectively.

Spelling out the reason for the spread of the disease, the director of Bihar AIDS Control Society, H N Jha, said, ''Illiteracy and unemployment were mainly responsible.''

The spread of the disease is also attributed to migrant labourers who get stricken after indulging in unsafe sex during their stay away from homes for a long period of time and afflict spouses on their return.