Friday, November 30, 2007

Youth education in the fight against the “social scourge” of Aids

The most important thing in the fight against Aids, “more important than numbers are individual persons and the dignity of the afflicted person who are battling this disease.

To stop it we must fight its symptoms, but also aggressively attack the field of prevention the only way to wipe this scourge of the face of the earth”.

Fr Alex Vadakunthala, Executive Secretary of the Health Commission of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India said ahead of World Aids Day on December 1st.

According to the priest, “The Church has around 5,000 Health centres all over India, most of these are maternity homes working at prevention at this mother to child transmission of the disease. We have to deal with the issue of ''feminization'' of HIV/AIDS through patients infecting partners who pass it down. Youth have to be our focus”.

The Church has launched a theme for next year: “Young people will guide our future – our future is now!”. For fr. Vadakumthala, this “it is the responsibility of the entire community, our youth has to be equipped with life skills to cope with the tremendous pressures that confront every aspect of their lives. Among these Aids must have first place”. In order to do this he concludes, “There must be a sea change of attitudes among communities and families, our youth must be taught values and respect and dignity of life, not just making them career people, Fidelity, responsibility, and respect are values that the adults should transmit our young people – who are at the crossroads at life-grappling with these same issues”.

Fr. Vm Thomas, Executive Director of Don Bosco Institute (DBI), Guwahiti, Assam, takes up the theme of the disease : “The issue of AIDS and HIV particularly in the States of Nagaland, Manipur and to some extent in Assam is alarming. Our main concern is that the majority of those affected belong to the age group of 18 yrs to 35yrs. In my opinion after working for over 30 years with the youth this is due to a combination of factors like lack of parental control, and guidance, bombardment of the media which literally seduces the youth, challenging their levels of freedom which is actually licentiousness”.

HIV/AIDS concludes the priest “is no longer just a medical issue but a social and developmental issue. In India, it is not the disease, but the stigma and hypocrisy about it that is prevalent in society, is causing maximum damage. HIV/AIDS is a silent killer, and if we do not help our youth at every level now, it will certainly engulf us.”


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