Bangalore International Centre had arranged a talk on “Three Decades Of National Response To Aids – Are We Winning The Battle?" by Mr. J V R Prasada Rao, Special Envoy to the Secretary General United Nations on HIV/AIDS for the Asia Pacific region, on Friday, 18th December, 2015 at 6.30 PM. Mr. P R Dasgupta, Founder Director, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) chaired and moderated the discussion.
Mr. Prasada Rao through a power point presentation with authenticated data on various issues explained that India's response to AIDS is now three decades old. Ever since the first infection was detected in 1986,India's AIDS response went through several turning points and some ups and downs too. He emphasized the fact that the initial responses had to deal with the formidable “denial” phase when the general impressin about AIDS was that it was an imported disease and there were taboos and fear psychoses associated with the campaigns to spread knowledge and awareness.
After living in denial of the problem for almost 6 years, Government of India launched a national programme for prevention and control of AIDS in 1992 by establishing the National AIDS Control Organisation as a semi-autonomous entity under the Health Ministry and availing a large loan from the World Bank. In the process Government succeeded in bringing in good leader ship for a public health programme with financial and management flexibilities which were essential to manage an emergency response.
Over the next two decades NACO has been able to create a brand image for itself not just as a semi-autonomous Government body but as an activist organisation building strong links with civil society and communities infected and affected by HIV. The programme was also decentralised to states in 1999 with autonomous State AIDS Control Societies taking over responsibility for managing the programme and routing funds directly to community based prevention programmes.