Celebration of Valentines Day for People living with HIV/AIDS
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Chennai: As elaborate arrangements are being made to ensure a hassle free celebration on the Valentines Day, a day before that special event was organized by ICWO, a NGO, working for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Ten real life HIV positive couples from four districts and volunteers from different walks of life participated in the day long event and shared their real life experiences to the general public.
“When each one of us becomes aware on how to protect himself/herself from the virus and has the freedom and access to services then we can be confident that we have started to overcome the epidemic. Till that time our work continues,” said a volunteer working in the field of STI/HIV /AIDS prevention among high risk population.
Around ten indoor games were conducted for contestants and they were; picking up the red rose, musical chair, for your eyes, know your partner, needle and thread, undo the knot, count the pebbles, head the ball, boom the city, tail the monkey. Prizes, shields, mementos, gifts were given to the winners at the conclusion of the games.
The objective of the event was to create hope among people living with HIV/AIDS who are not open about their status and to express the true love within such couples. This was also to demonstrate healthy living among people living with HIV/AIDS and to create awareness about usefulness for healthy living among such people across the country.
Inaugurating the event Ms. Sarah Clymer, Vice Consul, from US Consulate, said; “The challenge was to reach out aggressively with HIV prevention messages to marginalized communities and back them with adequate services. The need is to forge a multi-sectoral approach to deal with the issue and each one should show its concern for such marginal communities,” she added. .
Speaking at the occasion A J Hariharan, Secretary ICWO, said “the event will create an opportunity to discuss about stigma, discrimination, violence, marginalization, ill treatment, denial of treatment, privacy, quality of life, access to the ARV treatment and nutrition for people living with HIV/AIDS. “
Giving the vote of thanks Ms. Arth Tarun said such program may reduce the stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/ AIDS and may create new volunteers to work among people living with HIV/ AIDS.
Elsewhere in the city, some 2000 policemen were deployed for incidents free Valentine’s Day celebrations. Police teams are constituted and deployed at public places. Marina Beach, Elliots beach, City Centre Plaza, various parks and cinema theatres police personnel are deployed to maintain constant vigil. Cinema halls screening ‘My name is Khan’ are also seeing unprecedented security.
The city police have warned that it will not tolerate hooliganism and anyone involved in eve teasing or any vulgar act will not be spared, and it applied to moral police taking law into their hands as well.
‘Those celebrating Valentine’s Day should not cross the limits and this applies to the moral police,’ said a senior police official.
Meanwhile, youth of Chennai are lapping up the wide variety of Valentine Day paraphernalia, and the new entrant in the market this year is 'love capsules.' The red and white love capsules come with a tiny scroll to carry such messages.
The buzz in the city is every one is getting ready to join the celebration of love. But what is love? According to William Shakespeare; ‘Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.’
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org