Concession for HIV-affected welcomed

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Bangalore, Feb 26 (UNI) People with HIV and NGOs working in the field today welcomed the Railway Budget which proposed 50 per cent concession for the HIV-affected.

However, the organisations expressed concern over the modality of its implementation as those with HIV may not come openly to avail the concessional tickets.

Karnataka Network of People Living with HIV State Advocacy Officer Shantha welcomed the Railway Minister's gesture.

''This will benefit many people who are taking ART (anti-retroviral therapy), the only medicine for prolonging the life of HIV-positive people.

''ART centres are not there in many districts and people travel every month to pick up medicines. The concession will certainly be of a big help,'' she told UNI.

President of Arunodaya Network of People Living with HIV, a body formed by HIV-positive people of Bangalore Urban District, said a long-pending demand of the community was finally considered.

''It certainly helps as many do not have the means to pay for their tickets but every month they have to go to the ART Centre to collect the monthly quota of medicines.

''However, the procedure involved to provide the reservation is important. It helps only people who are open. Others will face stigma and discrimination as they have to reveal the HIV status to get the concession,'' she said.

Davanagere Network of People Living with HIV President Parveen welcomed the gesture of the Railway Minister and said it would help thousands of people who travel to the district headquarters every month. The State Road Transport Department, too, should take a cue and provide concession, she added.

''Many of the HIV-positive people come from very poor background and actually we are planning to demand 100 per cent concession for such people,'' she added.

Railway authorities should just ask for a stamp from the ART Centre or give badges just like it is done for availing Railway concession for the disabled.

''Or else HIV people will face lot of stigma and denial because of making their status public,'' she felt.

UNI MSP RS SYU RAI1903

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