Indian penal code impeding AIDs control interventions

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New Delhi, Aug 22 : Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Anubmani Ramadoss today said that the Health Ministry is lobbying with concerned agencies for removal of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code as it is impeding the Government's AIDS control measures.

Speaking after inaugurating a photo exhibition on AIDS Awareness here, Dr. Ramadoss said that after 18 years, India's AIDS control Programme has started showing results. Incidence of AIDS cases has started declining, however, the Ministry is keeping the efforts on and expanding the AIDS Control measure to new areas.

He said that India has a population group of 2.3 million, which fall in the category of males having sex with males (MSM). About 10 per cent of them are highly vulnerable.

"In order to intervene in this crucial segment, access is needed and Section 377 makes it difficult. If the Section goes it will help a great deal in de-stigmatization and improves access to the target group. Having a good judicial verdict in some on-going cases will have a positive effect on our efforts, he added.

Praising the efforts of Government, private and civil society organizations, Dr. Ramadoss said that health sector in India has two major success stories in National Rural Health Mission and National AIDS Control Programme.

'It is time that the world starts talking about these successes' he added.

Dr. Ramadoss inaugurated a photo exhibition by the Photographer Prashant Panjiar illustrating the Chapters of a Book 'AIDS Sutra' which is a collection of 16 real life stories by some of India's most well known writers.

The anthology has contributions from writers like Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Vikram Seth, Sunil Ganguly, Mukul Kesavan, C.S. Lakshmi and Amit Chaudhury.

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